November 17, 2017
Some of the most common strains between the younger and older generations are mismanaged expectations and misunderstandings of work ethic. While millennials may prefer flexible schedules and remote workplaces, they are usually working just as hard as their counterparts in older generations that prefer traditional schedules. Ashlyn, a hiring expert from Worthington Industries, gives advice on overcoming this: “The first thing to do is work hard; show those around you that you are passionate about your work, and also respect the work that they're doing.” 1 An easy way to bridge the gap between generations is by gaining their respect, and you can gain that respect simply by doing what you’re already doing: working hard.
Learn From Them
Each generation has unique skills and experiences that they can share with the other. Older employees’ decades of wisdom can hold valuable lessons for someone new to the field. Amanda, a hiring expert from Daikin, stresses how important it is to “Make sure to listen and learn from them. Experienced individuals are usually willing to teach and train, but only if you’re willing to learn.”2 It is also important to remember that you have things to teach as well. Chances are, you’ve grown up surrounded by technology and using it is second-nature. By recognizing each other’s unique expertise, both parties can enhance their skills and ultimately create a more collaborative workplace.
At the end of the day, we’re all just people. Even if it feels like your older coworkers are in a completely different stage of their life, you’re bound to find things in common if you just take a little time to get to know them. Ashlyn finishes her advice by saying this: “Talk to them—approach the people that you work with, ask what they like to do in their spare time, and see if you have anything in common.”3 The best way to build relationships with anyone, older or younger, is to find common ground and go from there. It’s likely you’ll find it’s easier than you think.
While it may seem impossible at first, building those connections between generations is vital to a successful workplace. Instead of viewing generational differences as an obstacle, think about the opportunities different perspectives will provide. Each generation has something to teach the others. Whether it be extensive knowledge of the field and organization or familiarity with cutting-edge technology, sharing this knowledge with each other will lead to a more cohesive and productive team.