Several generations interact in the workplace today. With the age difference, there sometimes is conflict. Each generation has its own particular skills, attitudes, ways of working, and looking at the world. As a human resource specialist, what can you do to encourage cooperation rather than conflict? Human resource specialist Brad Karsh has a few suggestions.
One thing to do is simply recognize that the differences exist, and that each generation should be accorded tolerance and respect, Karsh says. This means encouraging employees to learn about workers in other generations, to find out what they value, how they work, and to make other generations aware of generational differences. Understanding here will go a long way toward creating a cooperative atmosphere.
It would also help to create opportunities for the workers to talk about these differences.
Workers also need to realize that each generation wants to be treated differently. Older workers cannot relate to younger workers in the same way each would to people of his or her own generation. Managers need to realize this as well. A younger worker, for example, as a reward, might prefer an on-the-spot bonus. Younger workers also value flexibility in work schedules.
Communication also is very important. Managers need to communicate frequently with their workers to get feedback. Workers should be encouraged to talk with each other as well about issues, rather than going through managers or human resources. Managers need to find out what motivates employees of different generations, how they like to communicate, and then implement their ideas. Managers need to take all complaints seriously, no matter who is making them, or to which generation they belong.
Leaders need to know also that they can relieve generational conflict by setting a good example themselves. When mangers have the respect and trust of their employees, no matter what age, the workers are more likely to respond with positive behavior themselves, with an effort at teamwork and getting the job done.
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