By Perminus Wainaina
Esther is a HRM at a production company. Recently, the company decided to hire more professionals for the sales, customer service, and digital marketing teams.
After the recruitment process, Esther noticed most of the new employees are from a different generation from the other employees.
“The company has professionals in their late 30s to 60s. Now, with the new recruits, we’ll have professionals in their late teens and early 20s.
In general, we’ll have professionals from various generations.
My main concern is whether everyone will be able to work together. How can I ensure everyone works unitedly and the organization moves forward?”
Different generations have specific preferences, some of which differ from other generations. What appeals to baby boomers may not appeal to millennials. To manage these different generations, you have to employ a few key strategies. These strategies include;
1. Recognize and embrace the differences
An important aspect that contributes to growth in a team is diversity.
When you have professionals from different backgrounds, they see matters differently and will have more input and solutions.
When it comes to different generations, the older much-experienced generations can offer guidance and knowledge on various matters while younger generations can bring a more creative approach.
2. Find a uniting factor
As mentioned above, the different generations will have varying interests. In some cases, they may have a common interest, but the approach varies. Take reading, for example, the older generations may be inclined to read hard copy books, while the younger generations opt for eBooks and audiobooks.
At the workplace, there’s cohesion and synergy when teams have a common interest. Look for an activity or initiative that everyone can get behind.
For example, you can have a CSR event, and mix up roles for the various generations. This will help the employees work together while understanding more about the other generations.
3. Avoid stereotyping
Stereotyping –either from HR and the management or from employees, can negatively affect the employees.
For example, a common stereotype that exists about millennials is they are a lazy generation. However, this isn’t always the case. The workforce is changing, and some regions have devolved from the conventional 8 to 5. Most millennials opt to work when they are most productive and they still deliver results within the given timelines. Some yet, opt to work remotely.
To have a thriving workforce, ensure neither you nor any other party forms a stereotype about other employees.
You can further achieve a stereotype-free working environment by creating opportunities where the different generations interact and get to know each other. This will go a long way in demystifying stereotypes.
4. Have inclusive systems
I remember a case where a junior accountant was hired at a manufacturing company. When she started out, she was surprised to learn the accounting books were manually kept. The organization did not have digital records for the accounting department. She put a request for a digital platform, but the senior accountant declined the request.
When you have different generations, ensure your systems cater to the needs of the employees, and the efficiency and effective operation of the organization.
Ultimately, having different generations means you have to evolve your operations and systems. When every generation feels their needs are catered for and the environment is conducive for them to grow and thrive, they will work more efficiently and look forward to the next day.
Perminus Wainaina is an experienced HR Practioner with over 15 years experience in executive recruitment and selection, training, performance management, and Kenyan labour laws.
He has consulted for firms such as Safaricom Sacco, Oxfam, Un Women, Pacis Insurance, Windsor Golf, Muthaiga Country Club, etc. Currently, he represents the private sector at KEBS in the HR standardization committee.