We now have more generations working in the industry at the same time than ever before in history.
In our office, we currently have four generations working together – or not, in some cases. I recently had a millennial complain to me that a new “gen Z” employee had just started and that “they were just awful”, adding, “If I had behaved the way she does when I started, I wouldn’t have a job!”
To which I must argue: is this really the case? Or do many of us have very short memories?
I know when I was a 20-something, I pushed buttons, said inappropriate things and made mistakes. I recently had a previous employer joke I had aged him 20 years in the almost eight I had worked for him! I have an almost two-year-old that pushes boundaries every single day and, while it is tiring, it is fantastic! Their job is to push the boundaries, to challenge the norm. Is this not the case with the next generation? Hell, I’m in my thirties and I still push the boundaries, where I can.
Psychologically speaking, the brain does not mature until the age of 25, and this benchmark, it's been argued, is the turning point from the adolescent brain to an adult. Now, I will get those from the younger generation who will argue the point that they are more mature and, while I don’t disagree, the science is there. While it can be incredibly frustrating and challenging, there is a perfect opportunity to harness the energy they bring and guide it into something successful.
One of the biggest challenges faced by employers is balancing the generations in their workplace and having them all on the same path to a common goal. Creating an environment that fosters mentoring among employees can assist in bridging the divide. Younger generations can learn from the wealth of experience that older generations have conquered, while older generations can learn more efficient and technologically advanced ways to carry out their tasks and learn something new.
It is also vital to deal with any conflict that may arise in the workplace. Rather than sweeping it under the rug, discuss the issues and foster an environment where employees feel they can approach management with any issues they may be having with their counterparts. It needs to be understood that all generations have something to bring to the table, and it is important to deal with any conflict in a productive manner.
It is also a good point to remember that while experience and lessons can be learnt, enthusiasm cannot, and while it can be time-consuming to train someone in the tricks of the trade, if they have the enthusiasm to make it, you are halfway home. Plus there is an abundance of great training, like that on offer at Real Plus, to help have your team hit the ground running in no time.
Each generation can learn from the one who went before in some way or another. Instead of complaining about them incessantly, how about work together as a team, harness the strengths, work on the weaknesses and build a better future for all.