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Employee Wellness

Managing A Multigenerational Workforce: Tips To Keep Gen X, Millennial, And Gen Z Employees Thriving And Engaged

In a previous post, we wrote about the different myths and stereotypes that each generation has about the other, and which contributes to employee disengagement and unhappiness. Once empathy and understanding are established among team members, focus must now shift to how senior leaders can address each generation’s well-being needs so that everyone becomes happier, healthier, and more productive.

According to a report by management consulting company McKinsey, companies that mix the different strengths and perspectives of younger and older workers benefit from better decision making, problem solving, and innovation. The report made special mention of the importance of age diversity and inclusion during the COVID-19 pandemic, stating specifically that “companies whose leaders welcome diverse talents and include multiple perspectives are likely to emerge from the crisis stronger.”

So what does each generation want from their leaders? Grace De Castro, founder and Chief Empowerment Officer of V+A Consulting, a boutique consulting firm with expertise in customized people programs and creative business solutions, shares her thoughts:

What Gen Xers want

  1. Minimal supervision from leaders. “Gen Xers prefer to work independently because it was also how they grew up,” Grace explains. “This is because they were raised with both parents working, they became accustomed to fending for themselves.”
  2. Peer-oriented collaboration. Precisely because their parents were busy and there were no Internet or smartphones to occupy their time, Gen Xers spent a lot of time interacting face-to-face with friends, so they grew up learning how to make genuine connections.
  3. Very clear opportunities to shine — “Because this is the generation that lacked attention from their parents, they are always looking to prove themselves,” Grace reminds. “So if they are not yet leaders, give them tasks that will allow them to show off their leadership skills; and if they are already leaders, invest in their continuous education like subsidizing online courses or assigning them an experienced mentor.” 
  1. Benefits related to physical and mental health. “Gen Xers have poor physical health,” Grace points out. “Among the different generations, they have the highest levels of alcohol and smoking abuse, as well as high levels of depression and anxiety. But they don’t talk about it and are less inclined to speak up when asked because they come from a generation that taught them to just follow and obey.”

    Grace believes that health benefits will also be warmly received because Gen Xers are already at that age when they know they are no longer young, that they are now closer to retirement compared to their Millennial and Gen Z team members. 

If you need guidance on how to implement a holistic well-being program at work, partner with a mental health and well-being company that can offer data-based and customized solutions to address the specific needs of team members. 

  1. Work-life balance. Similarly, because Gen Xers will not complain, it must be up to the company to create an environment that allows them to not feel guilty when they take breaks. 

What Millennials and Gen Zers want

  1. Employers who prioritize their well-being. Because Millennials and Gen Zers are work martyrs, they feel guilty for taking breaks. So as a leader, constantly remind your team members to slow down or rest between tasks. In addition, avoid assigning tasks outside work hours. “Let them know it’s okay to say ‘no’ when work becomes unmanageable,” Grace says.
  2. Constant reminders to unplug. Similar to the above, encourage these tech-savvy employees to disconnect from social media once in a while. Research has shown that too much consumption of social media increases feelings of inadequacy, FOMO (fear of missing out) and isolation. “These add to a person’s stress and anxiety,” Grace explains.
  3. Giving feedback. Millennials, in particular, crave continuous feedback. They demand and expect a responsive managerial style and ongoing relationships with their supervisors. “Feedback is not shouting at them if they make a mistake,” Grace cautions. “Rather, it is taking the time to walk them through what they did well and what they could improve on.” 

Just because someone was born in a certain time does not mean everything about that generation applies

Grace de Castro

For everyone

  1. Beware dubious generalizations about others. “Just because someone was born in a certain time does not mean everything about that generation applies,” Grace says.
  2.  Spend time getting to know your team members. “Each person has their own story to tell,” she adds.

The COVID-19 pandemic has put so much pressure on workplace leaders to maintain profitability that sometimes, looking out for the welfare of employees takes a backseat. “But unless your company is  fully automated, caring for the well-being of the people who work for you is the best investment you will ever make,” Grace says. “We need to be mindful that regardless of what generation they belong to, everyone is feeling overworked, feeling guilty for taking breaks, and struggling to separate work life from home life. So as a leader, it is important to make sure that everyone enjoys the work, feels valued, and feels like part of the team.Getting to know your people is what pays dividends and will pay back a hundredfold when you do it well.”

MindNation is a mental health and well-being company that focuses on holistic well-being to create customized programs for team members. Partner with us to build happier, healthier, and more productive teams. Visit www.themindnation.com to learn more!

Categories
Employee Wellness

Generation Gap: Debunking 5 Myths About Gen X, Millennial, and Gen Z Employees

Today’s workforce is generationally diverse: according to an article by think tank Pew Research Center, there are currently four very different generations working side by side in the workplace:

Baby Boomers (those born 1946-1964), who occupy critical leadership roles in the organizations;

  • Gen Xers (born 1965-1980), who may also occupy leadership positions;
  • Millennials (born 1981- 1996), who are next in line for leadership positions;
  • Generation Z (those born 1997-2012), who are just now making their way in the workforce

Bridging the generation gap at work can be challenging because each generation brings with it unique work values, ethics, and preferred ways of managing and being managed. “Generations are defined by socio-economic and political events that occurred during the formative years,” explains Grace De Castro, founder and Chief Empowerment Officer of V+A Consulting, a boutique consulting firm with expertise in customized people programs and creative business solutions. “These events helped shape the way a person thinks, so one generation’s way of doing things may be vastly different from another generation’s.”

As a result, it is not uncommon for older generations to ‘look down’ on younger team members and judge ‘Why are they acting this way, we weren’t like that before?’ or for Millennials and Gen Zers to regard older coworkers in a similarly negative light.

While these thoughts and emotions are valid, it is important for companies to reduce stereotyping and cultivate understanding so that everyone works together harmoniously.

Grace De Castro

“While these thoughts and emotions are valid, it is important for companies to reduce stereotyping and cultivate understanding so that everyone works together harmoniously,” Grace advises. Below, she shares 5 myths about the different generations that need to be debunked or contextualized:

Myth #1: Gen Xers have outdated values. They are homophobic, racist, sexist, etc.
PLAUSIBLE: “It might seem that way because Gen Xers are in positions of authority at work, so everything they say is noticed,” Grace concedes. “But this does not mean that all members of that generation think the same way.”

Myth #2: Millennials and Gen Zers are lazy.
FACT: According to this Forbes article, 4 in 10 millennials consider themselves “work martyrs.” “By this, we mean that they think of themselves as dedicated and indispensable workers who are wracked with guilt whenever they take time off, so many of them actually continue working while they are on leave,” Grace points out. This article by the Harvard Business Review also concurs — millennials are more likely to forfeit paid days off than older generations.

Myth #3: Millennials and Gen Z-ers are entitled and disrespectful.
PLAUSIBLE:
Being entitled means believing oneself to be inherently deserving of privileges or special treatment. So are younger co-workers really more self-absorbed? Grace says this would depend on the culture of the organization. This is because while a study published in the Journal of Business and Psychology found no difference in the work ethics of the different generations, she says that millennials are more willing to speak up for themselves and express their opinions — even to their superiors — than their older counterparts. “Millennials are not afraid to ask for that raise or promotion, or to take the risk to move on when necessary,” she says. This is why it’s important for organizations to create safe spaces in the workplace and make sure that employees are allowed to express themselves without fear of repercussions.

Myth #4: Millennials and Gen Zers seek purpose over paycheck.
FACT:
A survey of more than 20,000 LinkedIn members revealed that Millennials were found to be the least purpose-driven generation. Additionally, 84% of Gen Z workers said they would like to do purposeful work for a company in which they believe in, but financial security has greater relevance.

It is actually Baby Boomers and Gen Xers who prioritize purpose. “Sense of purpose deepens as you progress in your career,” Grace explains. “For Baby Boomers, it’s because they have worked longer and are at that age when they want to leave a legacy. On the other hand, Gen Xers are old enough to have experience and financial security, but also still young enough to consider doing other things.” She adds that the COVID-19 pandemic, in particular, has caused many Gen Xers to reexamine their current life path and ask themselves “Am I really doing what I’m supposed to be doing?’”

Myth #5: Millennials and Gen Zers are job-hoppers and have no loyalty.
PLAUSIBLE: Contrary to popular perception, the Pew Research Center says that Millennials actually stay with their employers longer than Gen X workers did at the same age.

However, a survey by Gallup reveals that 21% of Millennials have changed their jobs within the past two years and another 44% plan on leaving the company in the next two years. Additionally, less than half of all Millennials and Gen Z workers feel connected to their jobs , resulting in more than 40% saying that they would change jobs if another opportunity arose.

“So based on data, yes, I would say that Millennials and Gen Zers are job-hoppers,” Grace says. “But the better question leaders should ask is why do they do this?”

Bridging the gap
Grace encourages leaders to keep striving to understand the different generations at work and encourage team members to be more empathetic towards one another. “Being a good leader means you keep levelling up and empowering your team members, and building an environment where good becomes better and better becomes best,” she says.

MindNation offers virtual trainings on how to manage multigenerational employees so that you lessen stress, increase empathy, and build happier, healthier, and more productive teams. Book this talk now through [email protected]