Generational gaps in the workplace continue to be a concern as I travel the country working with teams to improve communication. This is not a new problem; human beings have been complaining about other aged human beings since the beginning of time. Aristotle was quoted as saying “[Young people] are high-minded because they have not been humbled by life, nor have they experienced the force of circumstances.”

I think that social media and worldwide connectivity has polarized the issues and created divisive environments that we are experiencing today. Young people are also encouraged to express their opinions in ways that were frowned upon and restrained in previous generations. So, the divide becomes greater, and varying age groups decide to pick teams and battle each other: Us vs. Them. This is not a great way to develop a cohesive team, and we should look for ways to bridge the generational gap and create mutual respect across age groups.

Today, there are five generations represented in the workplace:

Traditionalists – born 1925 – 1945

Baby Boomers – born 1946 – 1964

Gen X – born 1965 – 1980 (yours truly)

Gen Y – born 1981 – 2000 (also referred to as millennials)

Gen Z – born 2001 – 2020

Create Understanding in the Generational Gap

The number one way to bridge the generational gap is to create an atmosphere where coworkers can understand and appreciate each other for their differences. We can learn from one another, challenge one another in a positive way, and respect each other, knowing that we have different values, different communication styles, and different work habits and all of that is okay. Create opportunities for team building with one-on-one time for different generations to get to know each other on a personal basis.

Learn about Generational Diversity

Read articles on the subject of generational differences. Listen to podcasts or watch YouTube videos on the subject. Volunteer to work with older or younger people to expose yourself to other age groups to gain better understanding of people outside of your generation group. Attend training that is focused on generational differences and learn how to overcome the challenges of working together. generational gap

Recognize the Benefits

Having a diverse workforce should include diversity of age and experience. Working with young people will increase innovation. Getting the council of elders will allow for lessons learned and avoiding mistakes that do not need to be repeated. Learning to collaborate with people of varying ages will enhance the capabilities of the team. I like to say you can’t teach experience; you have to experience it and that takes time. Recognize and value the sacrifice made by your seasoned coworkers and learn new ideas from your junior coworkers. There is a harmony that can be achieved where all team members regardless of age, can be appreciated for the value they contribute to the whole.

Conclusion

Bridging the generational gap in the workplace is not only possible but also essential for creating a cohesive and productive environment. By fostering understanding, embracing diversity, and recognizing the unique contributions of each generation, we can transform potential conflicts into opportunities for growth and innovation. It’s important to remember that every generation brings its own set of skills, experiences, and perspectives to the table. By valuing these differences and working together, we can build stronger, more dynamic teams that are well-equipped to face the challenges of the modern workplace. Let’s move beyond the Us vs. Them mentality and create a culture of mutual respect and collaboration, where every team member, regardless of age, is empowered to contribute to their fullest potential.

Want to empower a young person and recognize them as a leader? Nominate them to become a published author in Voices For Leadership Volume 3, our Youth Edition: Young Leaders Are Invited to Become An Author In Voices For Leadership