For the first time in recorded history, today’s workforce is comprised of members from four generations. This dynamic is unprecedented and has been dissected as the cause of much workplace strife. Research shows that different generations can be characterized by certain sets of attitudes and beliefs, but today’s workplace realities are a little more nuanced, since diversity exists within every generational group as well. In other words, not everyone in a particular group shares the same views.

It is important to remember that there are numerous other factors that affect a person’s outlook, including educational level, work and marital status, income level and state of the economy during various life stages.

Different experiences do breed different ways of making sense of the world, but (regardless of the generation) people basically want the same thing in the workplace, including fairness, flexibility, recognition and some level of stability. They just want these things delivered in different packages, depending on the life experiences that shaped their outlook.

The bottom line is that today’s workforce is one of the most diverse units ever witnessed, and the reasons behind it are varied and complex. There are differences across generations, but in many cases those differences are contextual or age dependent rather than true generational differences.

Because of this it is imperative that managers understand that individuals do differ from one another, and that conflicts stem more often from errors in perception and mistaken attribution (i.e. stereotypes) rather than from valid differences. Because of this, effective communication and continuity in management style are vital for effective oversight of today’s workforce.

Managers should:

  • Treat employees as valued members of the organization and not as disposable assets
  • Accommodate employee differences when possible
  • Strive for employee engagement
  • Emphasize the commonality between all workplace groups

However, while some practices may need to be established to accommodate individual workers’ differences, standard guidelines should be applied across the organization. For example, all employees should

  • Abide by all company policies
  • Fulfill the responsibilities of their jobs
  • Understand what they need to do to meet and/or exceed expectations.
  • Be given consistent feedback on how they are meeting those expectations.

Snelling is here to help. In today’s diverse environment, our goal is to learn the organizational profile of our clients and then select the best-fit candidate for those environments, whether it be for temporary, temp-to-hire or direct hire positions. Our deep understanding of organizational best practices and how different workers fit in most comfortably can be a strategic advantage for your company in your talent management initiatives. Visit our website to find your local office, where our knowledgeable staff will work with you to achieve best practices in managing your diverse workforce.

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