Generational Tensions Listed as a Top Issue Affecting the Workplace: What the 4 Generations Have in Common

Written by LeAnn Thieman, CSP, September 6th, 2012

It shouldn’t surprise us that a Business Week survey ranked “generational tensions” as one of the top issues affecting the workplace today. This is the first time in the history of our nation that four generations are working together in the workforce. Sixty-five percent of employees said it makes it hard to get their jobs done.

There is lots of information and white papers detailing the differences and difficulties of the four generations. Understanding and appreciating these differences is critical, not only to better understand coworkers, but to attract, interview and hire the right staff.

It can be overwhelming, however, to think one has to have four different approaches to serve four such diverse groups of people. But there is good news. In my research I determined 12 things all four generations have in common. This knowledge decreases negativity, resentment, tension and turnover in the workplace and increases cooperation, retention and productivity.

They all want or need:

  1. To be shown that you care for them as people. Show interest in their personal lives. Encourage them and give them tools to care for their bodies, minds and spirits.
  2. Respect for all the skill, wisdom and knowledge they bring.
  3. Flexible hours. Gen X and Gen Yers work to live and demand work-life balance, often choosing that over money. Traditionalists and Boomers who once lived to work, are now getting tired, with weak knees and sore feet. Offering flexible work hours will help retain all generations.
  4. Education and career development. Though this is often the first budget to be cut, it is one of the most important needs expressed by all.
  5. To feel important and appreciated. Thank them in public. Write notes of gratitude. Create bulletin boards to display thank you letters, special acts of kindness, etc.
  6.  Morale boosters. Give positive feedback. Offer motivational reading material, speakers, and support.
  7. Good and frequent communication. Often it is not-knowing that creates stress and low morale. Tell them honestly what is happening, trust them with the truth.
  8. Feedback. Gen Ys are known to need frequent feedback and assessments, but all generations need it in these ever-changing challenging times. In formal evaluations or every day communication, let them know how they are doing. Mention strengths and areas of need.
  9. To celebrate success. When unit or organizational goals are achieved, celebrate …often! Throw parties and pot-lucks.
  10.  Recognition, personally and professionally. Pay attention to achievements at work, home, or the community. Give pins, certificates, and gifts to honor accomplishments.
  11.  For you to hire the right people.
  12. …and fire the “wrong” ones. Get rid of low performers and create an environment to recognize the best. One negative poor performing worker can spoil the morale and productivity of an entire unit.

These 12 tips create a happy team of people which results in increased productivity and retention. In this environment, all four generations are challenged, respected, coached and supported…because, after all, they have a lot in common.

As a nurse speaker, I specialize in nurse recruitment, nurse retention, and work life balance and can help improve morale, retention and recruitment. CONTACT ME TODAY to talk about my powerful keynotes, workshops and programs. I look forward to helping your organization achieve its goals.

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