Based on research conducted by Willis Towers Watson, 25 percent of the U.S. labor force anticipate working past the age of 70. And 32 percent now plan on retiring later than they had originally intended.
It should come as no surprise, then that we are beginning to witness five distinct generations active in today's workforce. Depending on whom you ask, the names and age ranges of these generations can vary to a degree, but generally they are considered to include:
Looking for further opportunities to strengthen company leadership? Read: 15 Skills That Will Make You A Successful Manager
With your workforce hailing from so many different life stages, they are going to have varying needs and expectations beyond the scope of their core responsibilities. Baby Boomers may be more focused on health care and retirement benefits, while Millennial workers will likely be looking for a more flexible work arrangement that lets them deal with family issues -- such as the ability to work from home occasionally to care for a sick child. Meanwhile that intern from Generation Z -- the cohort comprising most high school and college age students -- is more than likely focused on opportunities for training and career growth.
There are a number of stereotypes and preconceptions surrounding every generation. And the best way to burst these biases is to address them openly and honestly. Have managers deal with generational differences in the same way that they would deal with any other differing work styles.
In addition, consider diversity training to help workers of all ages learn to better accept and communicate with their colleagues.
Each of your employees has value, even the newest hire straight out of college. Create opportunities for these employees to share their knowledge and experiences across generations and backgrounds. Host regular meetings that encourage employees to provide tips and insight regarding the technology and processes that affect their daily jobs as well as their long-term careers.
Consider instituting a reciprocal mentoring program that matches older, more experienced staff with their younger colleagues. While an employee nearing retirement may be able to offer career development advice, the younger staff member might be able to shed insight into the nuances of the latest technology or social media platform. Or vice versa.
Meeting the diversity of demands from so many age groups and backgrounds can prove challenging, but by embracing a flexible work environment, your business can better recognize and accommodate these sometimes competing expectations.
Of course, your company can't be flexible in every matter, so determine what are core, non-negotiable requirements for your day-to-day business and be malleable in other areas. For example, if your company needs its workers to be available to field customer inquiries, consider setting mandatory in-office hours from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., allowing workers to choose whether they come in earlier or stay later for the rest of their shift.
When your managers and employees are clear on what is expected and required from them to do their jobs well, supervisors can offer accommodations that better meet the needs of each generational group and each staff member.
While we've mentioned a number of generalizations in this article to discuss the needs of different age groups, please bear in mind that these are just that -- generalizations.
Not everyone fits the pattern or mold of their "group," and the best way to manage a multigenerational team is to manage it as a team of individuals. By getting to know the unique talents, needs, and expectations of each of your staff, your managers will be better equipped to lead, support, and even inspire these workers to succeed.
After all, some of the best people to tell you how to manage your employees are your employees.
There is no "one size fits all" management style, particularly when overseeing a diverse multigenerational team. But by listening to the unique needs of your workforce and embracing new ways of thinking and operating, your business can create a successful work environment that builds off the multitude of strengths offered by these workers.
If you would like learn about how Workplace Answers, an EVERFI company, can help your company create an open, inclusive environment for employees of every age range and background, request a demo of our courses. Our team would love to work with you to find the training that best matches your organization's needs.