How to make a multi-generational workplace work

Paul Harris
BrightHR
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With record numbers of people working beyond retirement age, and tech savvy millennials entering employment, the workplace is changing. For the first time in history, offices are made up of three generations; the millennials, generation X and the baby boomers. It’s a challenge having such a varied workforce and with each group bringing different values to the table it's a management team’s job to work out the best way to bring them together.

Building a culture of fun could be the answer. A workplace that encourages play attracts and engages the best talent; creating a place where people actually want to work. And by using play to bring different generations together, senior leaders can develop a better understanding of the expectations of their team.

Play at work is very different to what older generations are used to. Generation X and baby boomers tend to see work as functional; they just want to get the job done. In fact in our recent survey 39 per cent of people aged 45-54 thought there was ‘no such thing as fun in the workplace’ at all. 

Millennials on the other hand expect a certain level of fun at work. They are the first tech natives; a generation that’s always switched on. Longer working hours combined with constant connection to emails mean this generation has blurred the boundaries between home and work, and with this group set to make up 75 per cent of the workforce by 2015, instilling a sense of fun in the office is a no brainer. 

Of course, there cannot be a one size fits all approach to fun in the workplace. What’s fun for a millennial might not appeal to a baby boomer. Play at work should be down to the individual, as and when they feel they need it. It might be a monthly massage day, a table tennis league or even an office pet; the key is for managers to take prompts from their team and make sure it doesn’t feel scheduled or planned in.

If management go about it in the right way, fun at work can be the perfect tool for creating an environment of trust and empowerment; and it’s this that will bring a multi-generational workplace together.

www.brighthr.com

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