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The nature of the workplace is changing all the time; with the older generations needing (and wanting) to stay in the workforce for longer and the younger generations naturally moving into the workforce, businesses all over the world are filled with more generations than ever before. This, along with the technological advances of the past few decades, is causing major shifts to occur in the workplace – so what are these changes and how should they be dealt with?


Who’s in the workplace?


Definitions of each generation vary from source to source, but according to Jeanne C Meister and Karie Wilyerd, the basic breakdown can be considered as follows:

Traditionalists – anyone born before the year 1946

Baby Boomers – anyone born between the years 1947 – 1964

Generation X – anyone born between the years 1965 – 1976

Millennials – anyone born between the years 1977 – 1997

Gen 2020 – anyone born after 1997


As you can see, the age gaps can be very wide indeed. Potentially, there could be a 71 year old employee working alongside a 19 year old and any variation in between. Of course, these are extreme cases but they are all within the realms of possibility in this changing workforce.


Because of the large difference between your youngest employee and your eldest employee you may find, within your own workplace, that your role as an employer and the relationship you have with your employees will shift as you deal with the different generations and their expectations of you.


The challenges


With so many generations in the one place and so many differing ideas of work, it’s no wonder that there can be challenges. Often older generations lack respect for the younger generations who may be given higher positions and the younger generations feel intimidated by older generations with more experience.


The good news is that most of these challenges come from reinforcing damaging stereotypes and can easily be overcome. Giving chances to each generation to prove themselves and to grow in their positions will be the biggest benefit to the workforce moving forward.


The benefits


Of course, there are plenty of benefits to go along with the challenges. Older generations bring in tried and tested ways of working that will help your workplace function at its absolute best, while younger generations bring in new technology and innovative ideas to tackle things from new angles and keep you moving into the future.


With every generation having their own ideas about the nature of their work and the younger generations coming in with new ideas about freedom and flexibility, employers will need to look at their traditional HR models through a whole new lens. It also doesn’t hurt to consider different salary packaging options to suit each one of your employees perfectly and create a cohesive workplace that is being rewarded in a way which really benefits them and spurs them on in their loyalty.


If you would like to read more about how the new world of work is focusing on intergenerational workplaces, download Pendragon’s eBook: ‘The New World of Work’.

Purnima Kabra