In today’s modern workplace there are a variety of age ranges, from 18 to 80, known asMillennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers. These widespread age ranges are increasingthe pressure on Human Resources (HR) to be able to effectively manage multi-generationalteams (Cox, 2016). Due to each generation being shaped by the era in which they were born,they each hold differing values, attitudes and work ethic. This creates challenges for themanagement of a multi-generational workforce, whereby for an efficient and successfulorganisation, each generation must be able to work collaboratively and effectively and suchgenerational differences can affect this (McCarthy, 2016, p. 14). The challenges implicated forHR include the generational differences in values, which can create potentialmiscommunication between groups leading to a decrease in productivity, the conflict betweengenerations due to negative stereotyping of generations, and the ageing of the workforceresulting in a potential loss of knowledge and experience in the workforce.Generational differences in values, attitudes and behaviour impose challenges and barriers,potential miscommunication and resistance of new ideas between generational groups. Thisleads to a decrease in productivity, innovation and possibly higher turnover. Each generationhas experienced different life events whilst growing up, shaping and influencing not only theirpersonal skills and values, but also their work skills and values with studies concluding thereare variations in work factors amongst the generations (Benson & Brown, 2011). For example,Millennials bring into the workforce new work styles, new technology and new ways ofinteracting, due to having grown up in a more modern society (Joy & Haynes, 2011, p. 216).They also highly value teamwork, feedback and, naturally, technology from management, andwant flexibility and a nurturing work environment (McCarthy, 2016, p. 14; Stone, 2013, p. 68).Conversely, Baby Boomers initially were not exposed to the technology of today. These teamshad different modes of communication, such as letters and face-to-face communication, whichsubsequently means they possess different skills to other generations (McCarthy, 2016, p. 14).Baby Boomers also tend to be highly competitive and believe workers should pay their dues,unlike Millennials, who seek a stable and secure work environment, with autonomousmanagement (Stone, 2013, p. 68). Therefore, just from the differences between these twogenerations, it is evident there is an imbalance between the management styles and workenvironment that each respond positively to. This can potentially create miscommunicationand ineffective teamwork, as each generation frequently differs in their approach to teamwork.With Millennials desiring new technology and interaction methods, barriers can be createdbetween them and the other generations who have not been exposed to or trained in suchmethods, potentially decreasing productivity and increasing employee turnover (Ferri-Reed,2014, p. 20). Additionally, the generational barrier due to Baby Boomers having morePage 3 of 7experience and knowledge, may be reflected in them resisting new ideas imposed, particularlywhen these ideas had been unsuccessful in the past, as they use their experience as an upperhand to overrule creative solutions or outside-the-box thinking (Ferri-Reed, 2013, p. 13). Thiswas further evidenced by The Delottie Millenial Survey (2014), which found that “Millennials’viewpoints of innovation are frequently hampered by managers who are unwilling tocollaborate” (Woods, 2016, p. 104). This can impact upon the future growth of an organisationas ideas that may not have worked in the past could be of benefit today. Resulting by potentiallylowering the innovation of the organisation and creating an increase in turnover, shouldemployees feel their ideas are not heard. However, to combat this, organisations today, suchas G&A Partners,have created HR methods that have made a point of recognising thPage 4 of 7of negative stereotyping and unfair bias by ensuring fair recruitment and selection processes,HR planning, and building a collaborate workforce by focusing on the generational similarities,not differences. Additionally, it is imperative that HR themselves is also able to remainunbiased when conducting HR planning, such as the construction of replacement charts whenan organisation needs to reassess the employee’s positions. Furthermore, through therecruitment and selection phase, regardless of generational differences, legally there needs tobe a fair recruitment process with the main goal to find the right person for the right job, despitetheir age. HR themselves must be able to remove negative stereotyping and bias through theirown processes and also implement programs that increase collaboration and improveworkplace culture to increase overall employee satisfaction and reduce conflict anddiscrimination.Finally, the ageing of the workforce poses the challenge of a possible loss of experience andknowledge within a multi-generational workforce. By the year 2025, the Millennial generationwill make up as much as 75% of the workforce (Woods, 2016, p. 102). This will be resultant ofthe older generations moving out of work. If HR have insufficient training measures, theyounger generations will be left possibly not having enough experience to successfully carryout the job beyond technology (Ferri-Reed, 2014, p. 21). As due to Millennials beingtechnologically savvy there is the consequence that they misunderstand non-verbal promptsin face-to-face communication (Ferri-Reed, 2014, p. 21). Therefore, Baby Boomers arevaluable for their mix of skills and experience and can act as a mentor for Generation X andMillennials, through HR implementing mentoring schemes to limit the loss of knowledge(Helyer & Lee, 2012, p. 572). Such schemes enable the transfer of knowledge within theworkplace, which is vital to both collaboration and mentoring. It has been found that knowledgetransfer can boost productivity where the older generations do work commensurate with theirlevel of experience, with the younger generations working alongside them (Barrett, 2014, p.1). This is evident in current organisations today, as Chief HR Officer at MasterCard hasimplemented reciprocal mentoring programs within their workplace. Through this, the youngermentors learned professional counsel and how to improve their communication skills, whilstthe older mentors were able to increase their technological skills from their younger partners(Knight, 2014). Therefore, HR must remain aware of the ageing of Baby Boomers out of theworkforce and the challenge of ensuring minimal loss of their knowledge and experience. HRmust adopt methodology such as mentoring programs to implement into their organisations sothat the overall level of knowledge across employees can remain at a high standard, or asshown through MasterCard’s experience, increase the knowledge across all generations. Asto ignore this challenge may create a future issue for the organisation, whereby there is adecrease in the skills of the employees, meaning organisational goals could possibly be harderto achieve and an increase in costs for training would be a consequence.Page 5 of 7HR are presented with many challenges in managing a multi-generational workforce. Thedifferences in each generation’s values, attitudes, and ways of behaving can create possiblemiscommunication and resistance to new ideas. Additionally, negative stereotyping of eachgeneration by HR and other generations can result in inter-generational conflict, reducingorganisational productivity and employee satisfaction. Finally, as the workforce ages, oldergenerations will begin to retire out of work. If HR have not sufficiently prepared for this, a lossof knowledge and experience will result. Therefore, HR must be aware of such challenges andbe able to implement appropriate policies and training to successfully manage a multigenerational workforce that aligns both the HR strategic planning goals and the overallorganisational goals.
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