How To Be An Effective Multigenerational Workforce

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Managing an effective multigenerational workforce requires tolerance and transformative thinking. Our generation membership is a contextual factor that affects our communication and work styles, and also our values and perceptions.

The Doing, Being, Becoming Model from occupational therapy offers an effective managerial approach. This model establishes a collaborative work environment that harnesses the strengths of each generation.

Doing is observable.

The act of doing includes a person’s work ethic, work style, habits and routines. An especially relevant ‘doing’ action is communication. Baby Boomers tend to prefer face-to-face and telephone chatter, Generation Xers generally favor email and texting, and Millennials trend towards texts and instant messaging.

When we observe others doing we have the opportunity to learn as well as judge our colleagues.

So, at its best, understanding the doing of others can:

  1. strengthen team-based performance, and
  2. improve company-wide inclusivity and diversity.

While, at its worst, misunderstanding the doing of others is a vehicle for discrimination.

zero tolerance in the workplace
Image Resource JAF Graphics

Being happens when we consciously exist as our true selves.

Contextually, it’s how we relate to our present stage of life. Since our being is informed by our present values, physical and non-physical elements support or defy generational stereotyping.

Being ourselves and allowing others to be themselves defines tolerance and facilitates work effectiveness and efficiency.

Understanding ours and our co-workers’ strengths and weaknesses helps an effective multigenerational workforce:

  1. assign tasks, and
  2. delegate responsibilities.

Becoming is our future.

Therefore, becoming is shaped by our actions (doing) and informed by self-awareness (being). 

Becoming is self-perception and self-advocacy guided by internal standards of conduct.

Indeed, becoming an effective multigenerational workforce…

  1. is what our future needs more of, and
  2. establishes a culture of tolerance and transformative thinking.

Occupationslabor force composition by generation are a synthesis of doing, being, and becoming.

Daily activities are occupations. Thus, individuals, families, and communities need to, want to, and are expected to do them.

Besides that, at work, occupations are the myriad of activities that occupy time. So, doing, being, and becoming brings meaning to employees and the entire organization.

Values guide rationale behind occupations.

For example, Starbuck’s corporate values clearly communicate behavior standards for doing, being, and becoming:

  • Creating a culture of warmth and belonging, where everyone is welcome;
  • Acting with courage, challenging the status quo and finding new ways to grow our company and each other;
  • Being present, connecting with transparency, dignity and respect; and,
  • Delivering our very best in all we do, holding ourselves accountable for results.

In occupational therapy we define values as the principles, standards, and qualities that provide meaning and motivation to engage in or avoid occupations.

Values are formed from internal and external forces: contextual elements including family history, experiences, cultural exposures, and the media.

An effective multigenerational workforce promotes harmony by understanding and respecting the core values of diversity.

At 18 employees the office catering company Chewse began harmonizing in radical ways. The results dropped employee turnover by 50% and increased job satisfaction by 52%. They’re still thriving, so now employing 36.

That being so, check out the contextual elements research identified as motivators for each generation below. What Values are opposite in meaning? Which Influences motivate similar meaning?

multigenerational research including values and influences

Resources:

PewResearch Center

Montana Office of Public Instruction

West Midland Family Center

Contextualizing values addresses intergenerational conflict in the workplace.

SHRM’S poll found that 72% of human resource professionals consider intergenerational conflict to be at least somewhat of an issue in their organization. In addition, top concerns raised by managers about Millennials are inappropriate dress (55%) and poor work ethic (54%). Furthermore, chief complaints from Millennials are:

  • older manager’s resistance to change (47%),
  • low recognition of workers’ efforts (45%), and
  • micromanaging (44%).

The influences and values of our three generations inform a non-confrontational rationale.

This can mitigate grievances by broadening perspective and understanding. 

Yet, despite differences in work-related expectations across generations it seems like they are more similar than some think. Most noteworthy is Mencl and Lester’s 2014 article of 505 employees working in a variety of organizations. Seven of 10 work factors valued similarly within all 3 generations:

  1. Teamwork
  2. Flexible work arrangements
  3. Work-life balance
  4. Having a job that challenges
  5. A company that provides continual training and development opportunities
  6. Employee is involved in decision-making processes that affect employee’s work
  7. Being financially rewarded for work the employee does

While, the three that wavered were: an organization that values diversity, getting immediate feedback and recognition from supervisor, and career advancement opportunities within the company.

Workplaces that ask questions bridge unity and empowerment.

As a result, they are becoming an effective multigenerational workforce. They are doing healthy perspectives and being non-discriminative.

An organization is a living community: a whole that is much greater than the sum of its parts.

A unified corporate culture asks, “what makes our workplace unique from the others?”

In conclusion, “We…

“…create value.” 

“…are a unified brand, people, and environment.” 

“…foster greater talent.”

“…statistically know we’re getting better each year.” 

 

The Doing, Being, Becoming Model is one of many occupational therapy frameworks that guide corporate wellness practice. Sign up here to be the first to receive strategies by email. Our team publishes an average of 25 posts throughout the year. 

So, what strategies is your company employing that fit within the Doing, Being, Becoming Model?

Share your idea(s) for strategies in the comment section below.

This post is a collaborative result of Brittany Frederick and Anita Joy Prins.

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