This is one of a series of articles and posts about diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace based on material from the AmplifyDEI 2020 Summit
We’ve all heard “With age comes wisdom;” “With experience comes wisdom.” While these statements have a basis in truth, in the workplace this can be perceived as ageism, a form of discrimination. Defined as “prejudice or discrimination on the grounds of a person’s age,” this applies to all members of the workforce, from the latest generation to enter the job market to seasoned and veteran professionals. We all carry degrees of wisdom and experience. It’s our knowledge of particular aspects for which employers are looking that may not be as mature or lengthy as required. Where do you start, and how do you land the opportunities?
I once was in the same position as many in the new workforce generation—we all were. I remember being a struggling young adult, freshly graduated from university, with rent, insurance, groceries, gas, vet bills …and not having the experience for which many employers were looking for “good” paying jobs. It was something I could do nothing about except be persistent; have confidence, and know that each challenge was placed in my way for a reason and that I was meant to be exactly where I was at each point in my journey.
Knowledge and desire to “do” also breed wisdom. Opportunity is a big part of putting your knowledge to work and gaining that experience. Say “yes” to everything you can—just because you haven’t done it yet or are unsure how to approach it, you have the capability. You are the only one standing in your way. There are so many things that go against generations coming into the workforce and those who are tenured, do generation gaps, and ageism need to be among them?
Five generations working together
There are a historical number of generations trying to figure out how to put aside the differences among their group labels and collaborate in today’s workplace— from “Traditionalists,” who make up the smallest percentage of workers with the most experience, to “Generation Z,” who represent the second smallest percentage and are just getting their feet wet in the working world. Generational diversity is among the plethora of unique qualities people bring into the workplace that helps enhance company performance and increase employee engagement.
When people work together toward a common goal, they are more likely to forget about their differences and focus on working together to achieve their goal…as well as learn to appreciate each other’s knowledge and skill.
Seven tips to engage a multi-generational workforce
Generational variety is one of the ingredients for a more diverse workforce, along with a mix of cultures, backgrounds, experiences, skills, thoughts, beliefs, geographies, emotions, just to name a few.
“When you have a workforce comprised of members with different lenses of life, there are a lot of benefits, including high engagement, as well as increased creativity, innovation and collaboration,” said Tonia Morris, generational connector with Simply HR Inc. “I know many of the generations coming into the workforce, and they like to embrace a diverse workplace.”
With a goal to help companies and their workforce overcome unconscious biases and ageism that generation gaps can create, Cheong shared her personal tips, noting that, “An organization’s culture plays a big part in shaping and influencing how different generations behave and get along.”
- Know the traits of each generation
- Talk to each other
- Reflect and brainstorm ideas to help strengthen an inclusive culture
- Create cross-generational teams
- Align on work agreement including communication medium
- Facilitate cross-generational mentorship and coaching
- Engage in ongoing discussions to shift needs as appropriate
Start a conversation today
Learn about colleagues, peers, and employees in your teams without a work-related motive. Enjoy a meal or a cup of coffee together. Grab your neighbor and take a short walking break to stretch your legs. Don’t assume you know everything there is to know about someone in the workplace—there is a wealth of untapped, unexplored knowledge beneath every person.
More to come
The information-sharing doesn’t stop here. I’ll be posting more articles and blogs about a few of the topics and more perspective, so please be on the lookout.