Organizations need to understand the age distribution of the workforce so as to develop strategies that attract and maintain their unique skills. Effective team management is a core skill for high performing teams. In the wake of COVID-19, most organizations have switched to remote working and it is important to understand the different generations to assist them best in this transition.
What is a multigenerational workforce?
Each generation is shaped by their birth years, age and important events that occurred affecting the society. These differences impact each generation’s work values and ethics and preferences in managing and being managed. Sociologically we count 5 generations in the current job market:
Traditionalists: 1927 – 1945, ages 74 and above
The silent generation, habitually equated to tough times, sacrifice and hard work. Yes, they are still working and yes, they are still killing it.
When it comes to technology they’ll simply have to adapt, difficult? maybe, but definitely possible, a little patience with them will go a long way. They are used to early mornings and physically going to work. For them, work is ideally meant for the office and is not meant to be carried out in the house. Most traditionalists in managerial positions use traditional management methods such as observation and ensuring adherence to the office’s rules. Traditionalists that are now working remotely have had to adjust their managerial styles and put more emphasis on deliverable results.
Traditionalists are not accustomed to completing their work on a less defined schedule, they need to know how the management and organization at large will be able to measure their success.
Baby Boomers: 1946-1964, ages 55-73
‘First TV’ generation. Often known for their abilities to think big but are also known to be self- centred. Many baby boomers are likely to place themselves in positions that allow them to add value to the organization. They may face difficulties in building strong relationships. In order to support them, the integration of real-time technology (video conferences and real-time chats) is essential because it will provide an engaging experience for all team members.
Baby boomers are hardworking and value recognition for their skills and expertise. They prefer more structured approaches to set and achieve goals.
Generation X: 1965-1983, ages 36-54
‘Middle child’ of the generations. Often known for their individualistic tendencies (independent, resourceful and self-sufficient).
They value work-life balance and are the first generation to grow up with computers, technology is inextricably woven into their lives hence are quick to adapt to remote working. Those in managerially positions are often remarkably effective in managing virtual teams because they adopt a results-based approach. They mainly focus on timely deliverables rather than how and when work is completed.
Millennials: 1984-1996, ages 23-35
Often described as ‘high performers’ and ‘overachieving’ generation. They are the most comfortable group in terms of collaborating online. They can form relationships with people that they will probably never meet face to face. They feel great pressure to succeed and have notable meticulous organizational skills.
While managing remote millennials take into consideration that they prefer to be judged based on their results and not based on the hours spent working. They prefer more relaxed setups and value recognition for their achievements and efforts.
iGen: 1997-mid-2000s, ages mid-teens-22
Born into technology. The oldest members of this generation are in high school and institutes of higher learning (colleges, universities etc). We have had the pleasure of interacting with them through attachments and internships, they are quickly joining the workforce and soon be a huge fraction of the workforce. This group will be interesting to learn more about in terms of the values and beliefs they will have and what best will most motivate them.
Now that we’ve gotten more insight to each generation and how best to manage and support them to work remotely, it is important to note multigenerational workforces are much more similar than they are different. They want the same things, support, recognition and appreciation. The best approach managers can use in managing and supporting remote working is through individualized approaches, simply put ‘meet people where they are.’
Encourage the spirit and practice of willingness to teach and to learn whether in remote or physical workplaces.
Cynthia Omayya, Human Resource Associate at Kipawa