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Communicating Across Generations Requires Flexibility

By Jeri T Dennistion, Chief Marketing Strategist, Denner Group International 6-18-2010
Takeaways: We have four generations in the workplace. Each has their own preferred communication style. Understanding how to communicate with each generation requires different approaches and rewards structures.

communicating across generations in a multigenerational workforceLearning to communicate properly across generations has become an important aspect of today’s workplace. For the first time in the history of the United States, we have four distinct generations working side by side in organizations. Each has their own preferred communication style.

  • Silents (Born between 1925 and 1946)
  • Baby Boomers (Born between 1946 and 1964)
  • Generation Xers (Born between 1965 and 1980)
  • Generation Y’s or Millennials (born after 1980)

Each group has its own distinct characteristics, values, and attitudes toward work, based on its generation’s life experiences. To successfully integrate these diverse generations into the workplace, companies will need to embrace radical changes in recruitment, benefits, and creating a corporate culture that actively demonstrates respect and inclusion for its multigenerational work force.

Flexible employee policies

This may mean changes in HR hiring and recruiting policies, as well as employee benefit packages and performance evaluations. What is important to one generation is not necessarily important or of value to another. Flexibility to address the needs and desires of each generation helps to foster this culture of respect and inclusion.

Add to these challenges, the swift pace of change in the world around us, and it’s no wonder leaders are having a hard time just treading water to stay afloat. Taking a holistic approach to managing change will help. One place to start is by scanning the external world around you to identify current threats and opportunities. Next, evaluate your strengths and weaknesses across seven categories to determine your organizational capacity to manage change and identify areas for improvement.

Challenges in areas, such as communicating across generations, will show up as you conduct this exercise. Then you can begin to put an operational plan in place to address the changes that are needed to ensure you create an inclusive culture that respects individuality. This will help the entire organization when each generation in the workplace feels heard and supported.

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