We live accelerated times, impulsed by the need to move fast and do things quickly. Before, both companies and society were ruled by a precise interpretation of time, where tasks and daily living were carried out smoothly, from day to day, with not many surprise-facing decisions to be made.
Today’s reality comes a bit differently. Individuals are now part of an ever-changing environment, guided by the extremely fast change of plans and implementation of new technologies, that lead to the feeling of falling behind very quickly. That, aligned with the emergence of Artificial Intelligence, makes it seem like we are coexisting in several dimensions at the same time, it being because of the advances in various sectors, regarding IT, or simply because with every revolution, different perspectives arose, and with them different generations, with different points of view, and unalike ways of getting things done.
Companies are, consequently, immersed in this enormous thread of ever-changing principles, dictated by the new social model we live in, that imperatively need to be understood, in order to avoid internal pressure and conflicts.
For the first time, there are four generations coexisting, and in the same workplace. Here follows a quick briefing on the generations we are addressing:
- Baby Boom: individuals born during the mid-20th century baby boom (1946 to 1964); they are a group of people that prospered during their work careers, and that remain politically and economically influential to this day.
- X Generation: generation that was born between the middle of the 60’s and the beginning of the 80’s. Commonly referred to as the “middle child”, since it is a much smaller generation compared to the baby boomer and millennial generations. They are often described as very good at maintaining a balance between work and personal life. They were the first to grow up with access to computers.
- Millennials: individuals born between 1981 and 1996. They are comfortable using technology-related gadgets both for professional and personal ambits. They are described as empathetic and progressive.
- GenZ: people born between 1996 and 2010. Their identity was shaped by the appearance of the digital era, they are more likely to be stressed due to financial and political landscapes, as well as health crisis such as Covid-19.
As we can see, each of these generations have very different characteristics that obviously impact the way they interact with each other. This may have impacts on the course of events during the workday, since each of them carries different points of view and strong opinions, that tend to clash. However, there are ways to make the most out of each generation’s strengths.
More than ever, leaders must be aware of this topic, so they can promote in an effective way the existence of inter-generational teams. Having said this, organizational talent should be managed through the identification of the impact of their differences in terms of work dynamics, both in decision making and strategy planning.
Bringing together the knowledge of older generations and the technological expertise of the younger ones will result in more complete and structured achievements and exponentially accelerate the company’s growth. This is also proven to have major impacts on motivation and teamwork dynamics, because it floats under the premise that knowledge exchange can be multidirectional and add value from top to bottom.
There are a few sensitive topics that are a bit more difficult to manage, due to their stereotypical nature, but can, nevertheless, be softened through multiple initiatives. Below you can find listed some of the strategies that have been adopted by several companies around the world, including Affinity:
- Deconstruct the deep-rooted prejudice that older employees won’t accept new ideas.
- Extend opportunities based on potential and results, other than on work experience.
- Trust new points of view and experiment with new ways of doing things when goals are not being attained through the mainstream and so called “old fashion” strategies.
Investing in organizational education is more than ever a priority, and it can be developed through staff-oriented training and sensibilization, as well as flexibility in company policies, such as hybrid working models that give people the opportunity to be together in person, but also at the distance of a click, from anywhere.
All these approaches have a direct impact on the company’s image and, therefore, attractiveness in the market, mostly because they reflect the way the company’s environment and culture is.
Accepting the differences between generations and enhancing their strengths along with promoting their coexistence through flexible conditions, will make companies appealing to work in and develop a sense of belonging much more easily, which will result in amazing results and happy employees and employers.
In a nutshell, organizations that manage their generational diversity positively and make the most out of it build a culture of inclusion, learning, tolerance, and acceptance that promote better outcomes and lessen the turnover at incredibly high rates. They are more capable of retaining and developing talent, as well as survive crises and the sudden changes we face daily.
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Beatriz Duro e Silva is Affinity's Business Manager. Focused, dynamic and full of initiative, she has a degree in Human Resources Management and began her career in technology consultancy. She used to be a federated athlete, but today she leaves running for her free time, as well as reading and cinema, two of the areas she is most passionate about.