How many generations do you have in your workplace? Odds are good there are at least three: Baby Boomers, Gen X, and Millennials. A few businesses have some lingering 70+, and the oldest Gen Zers are now in their 20s, so you could have five generations.

Think about that. Five generations, raised in different eras, with different cultures, different priorities, and different work experiences and training. This mix is important to us at CultureWaves, since we believe data needs to be analyzed through a lens that includes generational patterns. We see some common behaviors, for example:

•The Boomer who becomes a frustrated “mom” because the “kids” just don’t seem to listen.

•The Gen X who can’t understand why the “old folks” don’t get out of the way—not realizing that those “old folks” are still way too young to cash in on retirement.

•The Millennials who are puzzled by the older generations who expect regular work hours and accountability.

•The Gen Zers who are just looking for a little healthy work experience before they build their own companies, and are surprised it’s not as easy as YouTube makes it look.

It doesn’t all have to be fractious, however, with a little planning and communication. OK, maybe a lot of planning and communication. Here are some steps to take to work toward a healthy workplace environment for all generations.

1.Provide a consistent training program for your business that sets expectations. This way, no matter what training or knowledge they come in with, you get a chance to say, “from this point on, this is how it’s done.”

2.Be clear on accountability. We’ve spent years disassembling the hierarchy of many workplaces, leveling out the reporting structure—and now, we’re finding that causes confusion for just about everyone. Make sure there is a reasonable line of authority if you want to ensure work gets out the door.

3.Get used to flexibility…and this applies to blue collar jobs, as well, who are faced with having to redefine work hours if they want to attract quality workers. Yes, the line has to be worked, and the counter has to be manned, but today’s workplace demands flextime.

Two of our CultureWaves analysts recently sat down with a program called SBJ Live and taped a series of free-form thought about how generations collide, clash, and ultimately work together. You can see it here.

Check it out, and let us know if you have additional solutions—or need a little help figuring out your workplace audience.

CultureWaves provides emerging trends that help bring the insights to life and give examples of in-market activation specifically based on today’s consumer behavior. Using a curator network and proprietary software, CultureWaves translates behavior into actionable insights to help some of the biggest companies in the nation better understand their consumer and his/her motivations.
In addition, CultureWaves offers a way to interpret device behavior to create a digital segmentation of a brand audience, complete with activation recommendations around content development and innovation.

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