There are now three distinct generations making up the workforce – Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennials. And with some members of the Silent Generation still hanging in there and the oldest members of Generation Z just starting their first jobs, some workplaces are finding themselves managing five very distinct generational groups.
Many companies are finding themselves grappling with the issue of how to effectively manage their workforce to ensure these different groups - all with different needs and working styles - can operate together as an effective team. And the solutions they are embracing are driving real change in the way the modern workplace operates.
Collaboration, communication and transparency
These are key words that many successful workplaces live by, as they are what Millennials thrive on. Since this generation will very shortly be making up the largest percentage of the workforce, it’s their needs that are driving much of the changing workplace trends.
We’re already starting to see a cultural shift away from rigid reporting lines and workers isolated in cubicles. And we can expect to see more and more workplaces break down traditional departmental silos going forward. Increased workplace transparency also lets all your workforce gain a better understanding of what their colleagues contribute, and allows them to become their own champions.
Bringing the generations together
Of course, while you need to make sure your Millennial workforce is happy, it’s vital you don’t forget your older workers - that’s why it’s called inter-generational collaboration after all! The older generations have a huge amount of experience and knowledge to pass along, so by making sure you mix up teams, or by introducing inter-generational mentoring you are offering opportunities for all generations to grow and learn.
By building these kinds of bridging relationships, not only can older generations get the satisfaction that comes from sharing their wisdom and up skilling their younger colleagues, they can learn themselves about the new technologies and trends, allowing them to stay relevant in an ever-evolving environment. More importantly, it can help create a greater sense of community among employees, and lead to stronger, higher functioning teams, so it’s a win-win for organisations and employees.
Driving technological change
What’s really interesting for organisations though is the technological changes emerging from this increased collaboration. A simple solution many companies have found to marry the needs of different generations of workers is to take the processes familiar to Baby Boomers and move them online. This isn’t anything particularly new – enterprise collaboration systems have been around for a while now, offering employees and teams greater flexibility into how, when and where they work.
But these systems are ever-evolving, mostly driven by Millennials looking for ways to make their jobs easier. BYOD programs have been around for a while, but what we’re seeing now is BYOS, or bring your own software. Essentially, employees are finding software that is more intuitive or more efficient than that provided by the internal IT department, and they want to use it. Software providers are jumping on this trend, and creating more and more integration between apps. And with the increased domination of cloud-based platforms, we can only expect to see more and more of this.
Building strength through collaboration.
Many IT departments are understandably wary of the explosion of both BYOS and cloud, with security being a very real concern. However, the forward-thinking ones are already in ‘solution mode’ and embracing this technology. Ultimately, the better the tools employees have to collaborate with each other across both teams and generations, the stronger the company becomes.