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Generation labels- good or bad?

2nd Feb 2017
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Increasingly we hear about the "multi-gen problem". Different communities with conflicting needs and wants, different communication styles and seeking different forms of reward packages, workplace structures and working patterns. Hosted by Inclusive Group, I was invited as a panellist for a lively event about how to manage five generations of workers. While the event highlighted some fascinating points of difference, what I took away was that as workers and companies we have so much more in common than divides us, regardless of our generational category. It's not always easy to feel you fit in when you are "of a different generation" - as I sometimes encountered myself as one of the youngest non-executive directors. I can tell you from personal experience that labels and categories, while often well-meaning, don't help people fit in. Tapping the power of technology to help organisations understand their workforce as individuals was a key driver behind launching my own company, Rungway.

Looking across the various organisations on the Rungway platform, something that’s interesting is that older workers ask for advice just as much as their younger counterparts. The way they ask is often different though - for example, we see younger workers asking very directly ‘How do I stop blushing in a meeting?’, whereas older workers tend to seek out broader advice - "what are your top tips to be great in meetings?" We also see gender differences - women ask questions under the cover of anonymity more than men. 

The real challenges of gender imbalance, workplace stress and not having anyone to turn to when you have a problem at work cut across all the age groups, and these are the problems we need to solve, working together. We need to focus on:

  • Trust – regardless of level, we should all be trusted, respected and feel included
  • Purpose – instilling a real sense of individual purpose and the impact we have on our company's mission
  • Sharing wisdom - making sure ideas, advice, and all the native knowledge inside our companies can be accessed by all our people -  regardless of what they look or sound like

 How can we do this?

Mix things up by creating multi-gen teams and use new technologies to create a level playing field for everyone - introvert, extrovert, male, female, young, old. We're all in it together.

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