As workforce demographics continue to shift, generational diversity is a common topic of conversation and in some cases a cause of trepidation. I’ve read several articles recently geared toward managers who are trying to understand employees who are older or younger than them, team leaders who are attempting to overcome preconceived notions and Human Resources (HR) departments working to create experiences that engage all personnel.
While organizations seek to solve these challenges, there is a part of the equation that I believe some may be missing: the opportunity to let the multigenerational employees themselves take an active role in diminishing stereotypes and building a unified workplace.
To inspire stronger connections and create a more harmonious culture, I invite HR and Learning & Development (L&D) teams to consider four staff-centric strategies.
#1 – Generate Knowledge Sharing Opportunities
There is a lot to gain by having workers learn from one another. Through the lens of generational differences, these experiences demonstrate that each person brings a distinct, valuable perspective to the organization. From the viewpoint of professional development, knowledge sharing is also an effective way to help individuals grow their skillsets and capabilities.
Identify different delivery mechanisms to boost knowledge sharing using your staff as the experts through lunch and learns, recorded videos, live workshops or written articles. HR and L&D teams may wish to start the process by determining relevant topics that they could use expert insights on. They may also invite employees to submit subjects that they are well versed in. It’s likely that there is a wealth of untapped wisdom that can serve the employee base.
#2 – Promote Multiple Approaches to Mentorship
Many companies already have formal or informal mentorship programs in place where more seasoned staff members offer advice or inputs to junior team members. A mentor relationship can encourage greater understanding, empathy and respect. I recommend that talent development professionals consider adding onto these traditional programs with other meaningful connections.
Some avenues could consist of flash mentoring, where employees connect for one-off sessions aimed at a specific outcome, or group coaching, where multiple people lend their insights. Giving staff exposure to many individuals from a multitude of backgrounds and ages can inspire stronger relationships, break down preconceived notions and support career success.
#3 – Facilitate Everyday Connections
HR professionals do not need to rely solely on structured programming, events or instruction to nurture team building across generations. They may also promote multigenerational collaboration by designing mechanisms that allow employees to interact and connect on an ad-hoc basis. Consider establishing channels where employees can share information about themselves or their common interests.
Examples include an open virtual (or in-person) space where employees can work, using the company intranet to highlight different individuals and their backgrounds or creating public chat channels dedicated to topics like work hacks, celebrations, office pets or learning. When personnel have a chance to learn more about one another, it will help to limit stereotypes and instead put the focus back on each person as an individual.
#4 – Name and Note Preferred Styles
Naming and noting are practices that assist people in explaining where a reaction may be stemming from. We use it often at Emergenetics® in reference to our Thinking and Behavioral preferences. For example, my Conceptual Attribute sometimes leads me off on a tangent during a conversation, which can distract others. By naming and noting that my Yellow preference is taking a detour – and letting others know that I will come back to the topic at hand – it often helps those with different inclinations give me the space I need to work in a way that suits me.
Naming and noting can be used in different ways as well, such as to describe a generational or cultural difference. By expressing where a perspective or need is coming from, staff members are often willing to give more grace to the other person because it builds a common understanding. To gain traction, this practice likely needs to start with some modeling HR, L&D or team leaders. Once in place, it can help employees have productive conversations.
Age is just one dimension of diversity that employers and employees can be celebrating in the workplace. As your organization explores opportunities to forge greater cohesion among your staff, I suggest that you consider the many elements that make up your workforce, including cognitive diversity.
By creating the mechanisms and systems that empower people to recognize the value in their differences and appreciate one another for being their authentic selves, they can stimulate an organizational culture where everyone can succeed.
Learn more about promoting a workplace environment where each person is valued for being exactly who they are. Explore our website or fill out the form below to speak with our staff today!Print This Post