An inclusive environment means people of all ages are welcomed and respected for their contributions. And in a world where there are four generations in the workplace, this is more critical than ever. There are still baby boomers working, even past retirement age. Generation X, though small, is a powerful force. And the oldest of the millennials are nearing 40. Add to that, Generation Z is just beginning to enter the workforce. So how do you know if your environment is inclusive for all age groups? Here are some things to consider.
Avoid Off-hand Remarks
These are the innocuous comments you might think are fine but really do cut to the core. The reason they’re destructive is because they’re generalities that don’t apply to everyone. For example, if you hear yourself or employees saying, “I just don’t understand the entitlement attitude of these millennials,” you’ve now alienated the largest cohort in your workplace.
Alternately, younger employees sometimes make statements about how boomers have lost touch or are responsible for many of the countries biggest economic problems. When we blame in generalizations, we create a hostile work environment.
Hire for Potential and Experience
One way to ensure your organization is inclusive of all generations is to focus on hiring for a mix of experience and potential. A younger employee may not bring all the exact skills to the table, but if they show the potential to learn they can become a trusted employee very quickly.
Alternately, hiring a Gen-X employee can benefit Gen-Y and Gen-Z by being a positive role model for their careers and with your company specifically.
Diversify Leadership Roles
Make sure your leadership team is made up of representatives from all age groups in your office. When a baby boomer is trying to work for just a team of millennial managers, they can feel uncomfortable with the differences in communication styles and expectations.
By diversifying your management team, you create an environment that allows everyone to feel represented. They will feel comfortable approaching their colleagues for frank and honest discussion about issues they’re having or even provide more positive feedback.
Ultimately, as the leader of your organization, it’s up to you to set the standard for how you treat your multigenerational company. And to do this in a healthy and productive way, challenge your own assumptions and those of the people around you.
Don’t just assume that Gen-X will be lazy. Don’t expect your millennial employees to be entitled. Don’t only fall into the trap of hiring people around your age because you relate to them better. Be inclusive and willing to learn new ways to manage and communicate with a more diverse team.
Can you make your workplace more inclusive to all four working generations?
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