How to Bridge Generational Gaps in the Workspace

As we continue to make headway in this new decade and welcome recent graduates and new colleagues to our organizations, our work culture is in a constant change of evolution. Whether these changes come from global events, cultural shifts, or simply the fact there can be a mix of four generations in one work environment, leaders and their teams are tasked with finding common ground and establishing rapport across years of generational gaps.

Employee retention continues to be one of the most critical factors in an organization’s health and success, especially when the cost of employee turnover can range anywhere from tens of thousands of dollars to double the employees’ annual salary.

To build and maintain a healthy and happy environment for your multigenerational team, read on for a few tips on bridging generational gaps in the workspace:

Embrace change, especially when it’s difficult

This seems like an obvious one, but bear with us. In a post-2020 world it can feel like change is something that’s always looming on the horizon, waiting for us to make adjustments and settle into them before surprising everyone with something else. But if we were to shift the lens to years before us, we can see that work culture has always been in a constant state of evolution.

“Take a quick look at offices before 2000 and 2010 – with the tech boom, Great Recession, and everything that came between, it wasn’t just workspaces that were constantly changing and adapting. Those who studied and worked before the internet have had to adapt not only to new ways of communicating, but also to information sharing and storage, research, and security.” Says Abby Prince, ProSearch Director.

Everyone has had to adapt rapidly in some way over the past couple of years. The shift toward hybrid or fully remote work has impacted us from individual to organization-wide levels, and we’ve found that the best way to survive change is to welcome it.

Really listen to your team

Part of keeping a healthy work environment is making sure that everyone feels heard and valued. You can foster a welcoming and supportive work culture as early as candidate interviews by getting to know your potential team members and finding out what they want and need from their next employer. What are their career goals? What type of environment do they thrive in, and what can they bring and add to that space?

A strong team is a core of keeping a healthy work environment, so getting to know who’s on your team and understanding what they need from each other and their leadership is a critical step to bridging any sort of gap, generational or otherwise.

Consider an employee advisory board

Getting to know one another does not automatically bridge gaps – sometimes team members and leadership can have miscommunications or even disagree on best solutions. The best way to overcome these differences is to lean into them. After all, we can’t expect colleagues from different generations, backgrounds, and histories to always be on the same page. An employee advisory board is a team of different members from your organization that represent their colleagues and can be trusted to suggest or decide on solutions for your organization’s work flows and environment.

As we mentioned before, the only constant in our world is change, so being able to embrace it and the differences in your work space is an important strategy for overcoming organizational challenges and bridging gaps.

Why bridging the gaps is important for your organization

Sometimes it can seem like talk of work culture and holistic organizational solutions are recent trends, the overflow of online and new-decade ethos. On the contrary, employee retention and its effects on organizations’ success and well-being have always been tied to how happy and secure team members felt in their work spaces. Harvard Business Review published an article on “Why Employees Stay” in the 1970s discussing what causes turnover and retention. They cited inertia as a main component, writing that “[e]mployees tend to remain with a company until some force causes them to leave.” That means that as early as when the oldest generations in our workspaces were children, researchers and writers have been citing a healthy and supportive work environment as one of the most important factors in keeping employees.

Take the next step in building a strong team

Here at CSS ProSearch, we understand that a healthy organization starts at recruitment. We take a consultative approach in placing top talent in the best teams for long-term success. Read our blog for more tips and insight on work culture and trends or contact us and see how we can help your team grow.

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