Today, many large workplaces have at least four generations represented in their employees. Though baby boomers have begun retiring, many have chosen to stay active in the working world. Gen X is prominent, and Millennials make up the bulk of most workforces. Now, Gen Z has begun to make themselves known as well.
Bringing together all of these different perspectives and preferences can be a challenge, and conflict is sure to arise from time to time. When one of those times comes, here are three ways to diffuse the tension created generational conflicts in the office.
1. Fight the Stereotypes
Even if a stereotype isn’t meant as a negative, making assumptions about what someone is like based solely on when they were born is a mistake. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t pervasive, especially when coworkers don’t interact with one another on a regular basis.
One way to stop conflicts based on stereotypes before they start is to get everyone engaged in projects together. Team-building exercises that provide the opportunity to explore each other’s skills outside of a traditional work situation can help employees get to know one another in a less threatening environment.
Within the workplace, encourage employees to work together regularly, or work on cross-training opportunities. Once a level of mutual respect is built, generational differences won’t be a source of conflict.
2. Keep Everyone Accountable
While younger generations have increased opportunities for flexible scheduling and remote work, not everyone has chosen to embrace those styles. Regardless of the number of people who do or don’t choose alternate scheduling options, it is important that accountability remains consistent across the entire workforce.
Set defined expectations regarding the level of communication as well as the method. For example, a weekly video conference gives everyone a chance to communicate in real-time, while email turnaround standards ensure that one employee isn’t stuck waiting for a response from another. You can also have set times where coworkers must be generally available to one another.
For example, set a particular hour each day where no one is allowed to set appointments with anyone outside of the team. That way, coworkers can schedule a time to catch up if scheduling conflicts have prevented them from touching base.
3. Use Technology Properly
Every generation has their preferred method for wasting a little time at work. While the occasional break should be encouraged, constant distractions from personal smartphones, emails, or other activities can harm productivity.
To make sure technology is seen as a positive in the workplace and not a source of distraction, set ground rules regarding personal tech use during work hours. While you don’t have to eliminate it completely, consider banning certain devices during specific occasions. For example, the weekly staff meeting could be tech free.
However, it is wise to balance this out by supporting technology (including social media) when it can serve the business well. Have your most tech-savvy employees work with those who are less familiar or who could use a process update.
By respecting the preferences of all of your employees at the right times, you can limit generational conflict and create an environment in which everyone can thrive.
If you are looking for more information about generational conflict in the workplace or are interested in locating a new employee to join your team, the professionals at The Armada Group are here to help. Contact us and speak to a recruitment specialist today.