Strategies for Managing Multi-Generations in the Workplace

Mark Koschmeder
Posted by

For the first time in history, people from all four generations are rubbing shoulders with each other in the workplace. Though there are definite benefits to having such an age-diverse workforce, the different values, work ethics, and communication styles can make for some challenging and drama-filled workdays. Here are a few ideas for managing workers from each generation and molding them into a harmonious team.

  1. Understand employees' perspectives. To effectively manage a multigenerational staff, you'll need to understand their various characteristics, which can help you figure out ways to approach and engage employees. Veterans/Traditionalists, born between 1922 and 1945, have immense respect for authority, an incredible amount of discipline, and tend to conform easily to the roles expected of them. Baby Boomers, the largest group in the workforce and born between 1946 and 1964, believe people need to earn their way in life, are competitive, and enjoy being in positions of authority. Gen Xers, people born between 1965 and 1982, are fiercely independent, tend to be skeptical and question authority. They can adapt quickly to change, and they're often resourceful. The newest generation, Millennials, born after 1982 but before 2001, are digital warriors. They love technology and are not cowed by authority. They work best in teams and expect to be treated as equals, no matter how long they've been with the company.

  1. Promote mentoring between age groups. A good way to get your team working together is to encourage employees to mentor each other. In addition to promoting cross-pollination of ideas in the workforce, mentoring can help employees see the value in and understand people from other generations. Older workers can pass down their experience, while younger workers can offer fresh perspectives on various issues.


  1. Increase flexibility in the workplace. Although Gen Xers and Millennials are most likely to pursue work-life balance, Traditionalists and Baby Boomers will also appreciate having more flexibility in their jobs, particularly as they approach or enter their golden years. Providing different work options, such as alternative work schedules or telecommuting, can reduce costs, be easier on employees at various stages of life, and help you retain members of your workforce longer. For example, Baby Boomers with a reduced workload may continue working past retirement age.


  1. Avoid adopting blanket communication and training styles. Each generation has its own preferred style of communication. Traditionalists tend to prefer talking face-to-face or over the telephone, while Millennials often respond more favorably to texts and instant messages. It's the same with training. Baby Boomers tend to do better with PowerPoint presentations and other forms of static training materials, while Gen Xers tend to be more comfortable with more dynamic learning aids, such as computer-based training.

Managing workers from different generations requires meeting these members of the workforce where they are. Taking time to get to know your staff members and their various idiosyncrasies can help you connect with them, find ways to tap into their strengths, and develop a strong and innovative workforce.


(Photo courtesy of Ambro /


Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

Jobs to Watch