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Understanding the Challenges and Opportunities that Come with a Multi-Generational Workplace

The modern workplace is constantly changing, bringing new challenges for employers, job seekers, and even recruiting agencies. Often overlooked is the impact of changing attitudes and culture. The implications are more significant now with the diverse and multi-generational workforce.

Millennials are expected to make the largest group in the U.S labor force. Generation Z is already getting into the workplace and currently constitutes 5%. There are five generations working shoulder to shoulder in the modern office.

Organizations expect employees to demonstrate a capacity for teamwork, productivity and have good communication skills. However, with more organizations embracing diversity, job seekers and employers have to contend with several challenges. Here is what companies looking for staff and those who need help finding work from job agencies need to know.

Work Place Culture and Norms

Formal employment today has changed significantly from what it was five decades ago. Baby boomers are extending their retirement age. Millennials are finding themselves in situations where they are training older employees.

Not only are organizations accepting from across age-groups, but they have also become diverse. Minorities and women are slowly taking positions of leadership. If managed properly, these differences can have a positive impact on the organization. Some differences across age groups may emerge in the following areas:

  • Work-Life Balance: Younger employees prefer a more flexible workplace. Older staff may feel more comfortable with a typical 9 to 5 workday.
  • Communication: Some employees may prefer using the latest tech to communicate. They may also feel comfortable in a more informally set work environment. Millennials are also more likely to use technology when they need help finding work.
  • Company Culture: One-way organizations can keep their staff happy is by cultivating a positive culture. The organization should ensure that its culture is inclusive and sensitive to the diversity of other cultures and groups.

Attitudes and Stereotypes

One of the biggest challenges of a multi-generational workforce is dealing with preconceptions and stereotypes. If not addressed, attitudes can breed an atmosphere of negativity. The result is poor coordination, lack of effective communication, and reduced productivity.

For example, millennials are generally perceived as entitled, lazy, impatient, and demanding. On the other hand, they perceive their older counterparts as rigid, old fashioned, and stuck in their ways. These attitudes have serious implications in the way employees interact.

One study sought to determine how employees across age groups perceive and respond to each other. Trainees were paired with trainers from different age groups. It was found that younger trainers were less patient with older trainees, perceiving them to be harder to teach.

Addressing Challenges

An organization that embraces diversity can draw from a wide pool of talent. They can become the destination of skilled professionals looking for employment opportunities. Companies can use the following tips to mitigate challenges and bring out the best of a multi-generational human resource.

Be Proactive: Staff should understand the importance of showing respect to people from varied ages and cultures. Before staffing your business, develop training materials as part of enforcing diversity policies.

Be Supportive: Whenever there is a conflict, leaders should intervene. Listen to both sides of the debate, before making judgments. Do not let the conflict between staff go unresolved; it will fester and may end up involving more members of staff. Always encourage employees to be open with their problems.

Allow for Flexibility: People who seek help finding work from employment agencies, often cite communication styles, team structures, and job hours flexibility as some of the important aspects of a suitable workplace. Leaders in these companies should take time to understand what their employees want.


Company leaders are still reluctant to adopt to diversity, with 41% saying they did not have time to embrace diversity policies. Such companies are not as popular with certain groups of prospective employees. Talented staff instead seek temp agencies to get help finding work. But other organizations are embracing diversity and are beginning to see its value. These organizations have a more motivated workforce and registers higher revenue and better returns on investments.

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