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Bridging the Gap Between Younger and Older Employees

So many articles these days are centered around catering to Millennials and Gen-Z employees. In fact, we just wrote an article about it! One thing that doesn’t get much coverage however is how younger employees could better interact and work with older generations. Communication goes both ways so not only is it important for Boomers and Gen Xers to understand how to communicate with younger generations, but those younger generations need to do their part and learn how to properly communicate with older generations as well. In this week’s blog I delve into this topic and offer some advice to Millennials and Gen-Zers on how they can be more effective in bridging the gap between communication, culture, work styles, and values.

Younger generation’s communication style tends to be less formal and in-depth than older generations (thanks in part to all that texting). When you are writing an email to someone more tenured make sure you are thorough and thoughtful with your messages. They can’t read your mind, and might not know all the latest acronyms, so be professional and err on the side of being more formal and including more details. Also understand that different generations have their preferred communication style. Boomers and Gen Xers tend to prefer to communicate in-person or over the phone while younger generations prefer emails or tools like Slack. If you’re a younger employee pick up the phone instead of shooting an email if you have an important topic to discuss.

Values and Work Outlook
Older generations tend to live by the moto “live to work” while younger generations think of it more as “work to live”. Younger generations feel that it’s not necessarily the time you spend in the office that’s important but the end result of what you accomplish. They may work over the weekend on their phone or tablet and clock in less hours at the office than their older counterparts who work in the office for longer hours but don’t do work “off hours”. As a younger employee it’s important to communicate with older generations that you are still working (even if you aren’t in the office) and accomplishing the tasks at hand. If you are managed by a Boomer or Gen Xer come up with a plan you both agree upon and feel is fair.

Knowledge Sharing
In any office environment, it’s important to build and establish good relationships and help one another succeed. Every generation is an integral part of an organization and they all bring their own strengths and unique values. Older employees can be mentors for younger employees and help guide them while younger employees can inspire older generations with innovative solutions and a new way of looking at things. It should go without saying, but younger generations need to always be respectful of their older coworkers and recognize the value of their experiences. Take the time to build meaningful relationships and everyone will benefit by having multiple generations in the workforce.