However small your team, there’s a strong likelihood that within it you will have a mix of generations, so it’s really important to bridge the age gap to ensure harmony. Leaving the effects of the pandemic aside for a moment, the world of work is changing, and at its heart are up to four ‘generations’, commonly referred to as Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials and Generation Z. As well as having different interests and tastes, these generations will tend to have different priorities around work, and especially work:life balance.
They may well share your company’s vision, values and goals, but on a personal level there’s a chance that they may have different ethics, personal values and ambitions. On a practical level, the different generations are also likely to have different preferences around working from home and coming in to the office, as well as working independently or as part of a team. And fundamentally it’s down to the business owner to create a work and office experience that suits everyone. So how can you bridge the age gap that will inevitably exist within your team?
Technology can be a blessing and a curse. Heightened by the pandemic and the need for effective home- and remote working, businesses have increasingly embraced the benefits of new technology and cloud-based software. While that may sit very comfortably with Generation Z – and even be demanded by them – our other three generations may struggle to embrace change. It’s important to establish effective communication channels, and maybe even identify a few super users, to ensure that your more mature workers don’t feel isolated and end up being left behind.
Learning together is a great way to build relationships and bridge an age gap. Older team members can bring experience and maturity to the table, while the younger members of the team can potentially challenge pre-conceptions and identify ways to improve. Embedding training in the onboarding process and inspiring all generations with the desire to learn and improve can only benefit the business and bring everyone together. A mentoring system can be a valuable way of cascading knowledge down the generations and ensuring that good practice is embedded into your company’s culture across the board.
Covid-19 has changed the world of work forever, and flexibility is the buzz-word of the New Normal. Many companies are opting for a hybrid model, with staff dividing their time between working in the office, from home or from third-party locations, and it’s essential to understand how each member of staff would like to structure their working week. Instinctively, you might expect that the older generations may prefer to come into the office as that’s what they’ve always done, and that Generation Z, who are completely at home with the technology that comes with remote working, might prefer to stay at home. But this shouldn’t be the assumption, as Baby Boomers may be fed up with the daily commute while the younger members of the team may enjoy the social aspect of collaborating in the office.
Allied to flexibility is the recognition that everyone is different. Avoiding preconceptions and treating all your team members – regardless of their age and seniority within the business – as individuals is a great way to help them feel valued. It’s sometimes suggested that different generations are at loggerheads in areas such as fashion, musical tastes and political views, but celebrating people’s uniqueness and valuing their individuality is a great way to bring teams together. The pandemic appears to have heightened people’s tolerance and understanding that no two people are identical, and that can be translated into your working environment.
Mutual respect is a cornerstone of any successful team, so enabling employees to bond outside work and learn more about each other can be beneficial. Recognition can also play a big part here, so why not celebrate your wins collectively? Ultimately, everyone has something to offer, and their input is potentially invaluable, so bringing everyone together to understand each other is crucial in teambuilding.
Rosa dos Santos, owner of Exact Sourcing, feels that bridging the age gap within your business is key to taking it forward. ‘Here at Exact we have a lovely blend of individuals within our team and we’ve worked hard to ensure that everyone gels together,’ comments Rosa. ‘It isn’t always easy to achieve, but forgetting to treat everyone as an individual is a sure fire way to destroy your team. Acknowledging that different generations have different tastes, views and expectations is hugely positive, and developing a culture of mutual respect not only ensures that yours is a pleasant place to work but also that everyone will be pulling together in the same direction.’
Exact Sourcing is a recruitment agency in Cambridge and Newmarket. If you’d like to discuss how best to develop your team, please contact us for an initial discussion.