Four Generations of Workforce

India’s corporate workforce has witnessed a sharp change in its workforce structure over the past few years. India currently has one of the most diverse workforces that include at least on employee from each of the four generations. These four generations primarily are the veterans or traditional (born between 1922 and 1946) the baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964), Generation X (born between 1964 and 1980) and the Millennial or Generation Y (born between 1980 and 2000)

The current workforce has primarily changed due to the rise in concepts such as internships and also the decrease in the retirement age of the employees. While internships have led to the entrance of the youth or the Millennial into the workforce the decrease in the retirement age has led to the Veterans retaining their jobs for a longer period of time thereby creating a diverse workforce.

Now the presence of a diverse workforce can only be quite advantageous for a business as it gets the experiences from all generations but the same workforce can also spell disaster for a corporate environment. This is primarily because the presence of a group of people from differing generations all with different values and views of the world would lead to the multiplication of conflicts among the employees. Therefore managing and motivating diverse workforce can certainly be challenging . Thus, in this situation the biggest challenge that an employee faces is to create a harmonious working environment by resolving conflicts and to effectively draw on all the strengths of the team members . Thus, in order to manage a diverse workforce successfully many managers follow the steps listed below:

The first step to reducing conflict caused by generational differences is to know which generation each of your employees fall into. The manager realizes that each of this generation grew up experiencing significantly different events – events that have shaped their values and their perception of work. For instance while veterans have often witnessed the harder part of life and have grown up to follow a strict regimen, Generation X was the first generation to grow up with technology. As such, this generation cares more about productivity and less abut the numbers of hours spent on the job. The Millennial are consummate multi-taskers and bore easily.

Once the manger knows which of his employees fall into the various generation groups, he can help them understand each other so that they can focus on each other’s strengths. Current research indicates that the majority of conflicts arise from the value differences of the age groups rather than the actual age difference itself. So it’s more about my values are the right ones and yours are not. For example the veterans may think that the young kids in the workplace are lazy, while Generation X may think that the veterans and even baby boomers are too rigid. However, if all the generations are open minded they can learn much from each other.

Adapt your management style for each generation. Leading four different generations often requires having four different management styles. Employees should realize that one size fits all style would not work here and would need to be objective to understand the communication style of each person involved and manage according to the situation and the people involved.

A simple rule to follow while dealing with people belonging to different age groups in a team is sing the song that is music to their ears especially for feedback scenarios. According to this rule, the manager should adopt different age / experience suitable approaches for their team members. Communication plays a key role here. As we all know that different people absorb feedback in different ways, it is imperative to ensure that a manager has to wear different hats while dealing with people belonging to diverse age groups. Thus, a perfect combination of free to executive ensuring desired results and providing feedback by effective communication immensely helps managing a diverse workforce effectively.

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