Ways to Foster Effective Communication in the Multigenerational Workplace

February 23, 2023

Introduction

We’re entering a new phase of workplace development as Gen Z begins to enter the workforce in droves. Surprisingly, this generation seems to have a pretty significant difference in communication preferences and workplace habits than the previous millennial generation. While both are more inclined to use technology, their communication methods can be vastly different. It’s important to understand this new generation and how to integrate them into your current workplace while maintaining the preferences for the older generations that are working on the same team. Take a look at what our advisors had to say about ways to foster effective communication in the multigenerational workplace.

Ask What Employees Need

First, it’s important to know what your staff needs in terms of communication. Some people, regardless of their generation, may prefer one method of communication over another. Asking your employees what type of communication methods they prefer can be an eye-opening experience for employers.

“Different generations and even individual people on your team will respond differently to each method of communication,” says Justin Olson, Chief Marketing Officer of Fast Pace Health. “Employees may tune you in to needs or possibilities you hadn’t considered when it comes to communicating effectively within a multigenerational workplace.”

Practice Your Own Advice

Whatever you decide in terms of communication in the multigenerational workplace, you should be leading by example. You can’t advise your staff to do one thing but remain unwilling to change your own communication preferences. If you’re struggling to learn to change your own communication styles, that’s okay! There are a ton of resources out there and it’s okay to ask for help.

“Showing your staff what you want to see in terms of effective communication in the multigenerational workplace can help them model it themselves,” says Lina Miranda, VP of Marketing at AdQuick. “The key here is consistency and intentionality. This should be something that helps everyone unite in an effort to cultivate a communicative culture.”

Encourage Mingling

As you approach projects and other things that will require people to work together, encourage your staff to work together and mingle more through natural communication. The more frequently they have to work together, the sooner they’ll see their similarities rather than differences.

“Often, one of the biggest hurdles our teams face in terms of multigenerational communication is the initial conversation that needs to happen to break down those walls,” says Max Schwartzapfel, CMO of Fighting For You. “We’re naturally drawn to people who seem most similar to us, but it can be hard to see the similarities if conversation doesn’t happen and that idea is based on outward appearance and age. Help your staff get past those surface level preconceptions by facilitating group work where you intentionally place people of different generations and backgrounds into groups together.”

Facilitate Group Bonding

Communication foundations don’t have to be set in the office. In fact, there are people trained to do just this. Take your group to a retreat or have someone who specializes in strengthening teams and their communication methods to help each employee learn about themselves and others while bonding as a group.

“Trained group facilitators are amazing assets to utilize,” says Ryan Delk, CEO of Primer. “Even if you have to pay someone to do this for your team, the lessons that can be taught in a workshop or retreat setting can be invaluable for your workplace. These people are trained to help multigenerational workplaces work together better by assisting in identifying blind spots and weaknesses in communication and equipping your group with the tools to work on them in the future.”

Promote a Mix of Communication Mediums

Sticking with only one communication medium can be hard with a single generation workplace so it becomes even more difficult with a multigenerational company. Often, you’ll find that your senior generations prefer face to face or verbal communication while younger generations lean more toward technology. Balance these out with a mixture of regular team meetings and digital communication platforms.

“Mixing your communication methods can be a great way to promote effective communication in the multigenerational workplace,” says Anamika Goyal, Head of Architecture and Design at Cottage. “Holding group meetings and encouraging people to work together in the same space as much as possible while also providing a chat platform that can be utilized for quick communication can bring in the best of both worlds and stretch everyone a bit out of their comfort zone for growth in their own communication skills.”

Focus on Building Relationships

The foundation of communication is relationships. While you don’t need your team to be best friends outside of the office, it does help if everyone at least has an understanding of what everyone’s background is and how they came to be where they are today. These are the types of conversations that can break down barriers and help that multigenerational communication flow.

“I’ve had many young employees voice that they feel older staff don’t value their input or they’re not qualified to speak up in workplace discussions,” says Juan Pablo Cappello, Co-Founder and CEO of Nue Life. “On the flip side, I’ve also heard experienced staff say they feel out of the loop and like the younger staff are speaking a different language at times because of the generational gap. These differences and preconceptions can form unintentional barriers between staff.”

Disrupt the Norm

Throwing a disruption of communication into the mix as you’re navigating this may sound like something that could cause trouble, but some people actually advise this tactic. Rather than encouraging your staff to discuss workplace situations and stay on topic, have them discuss personal matters.

“Encourage conversation about things like job experience, college education, motivation, drive, and passions,” says Fred Gerantabee, Chief Experience Officer of Readers.com. “Have staff share a hobby or another fact about themselves at the beginning of each team meeting. Give them something to talk about and don’t discourage conversation that’s off work topics every once in a while. Once they see they’re more alike than dissimilar, relationships and communication methods will develop more naturally.”

Ask What Employees Need

If your staff seems frustrated by changes that have been suggested or current communication practices, you can ask them what they need. They may need more face-to-face time or an easier online communication platform to utilize. Whatever the case may be, hear out your staff and try to accommodate these needs to the best of your abilities.

 

“Simply asking your staff what they need in terms of communication improvement can help you navigate the communication issues that may seem to be recurring within your team,” says John Sarson, CEO of American Crypto Academy. “Look at the ideas and concerns of your team and explore compromises that will help your team feel heard as you navigate multigenerational communication.”

Be Flexible in Workplace Format

While allowing your staff to work from home can be a drawing factor for applicants, it can be beneficial to encourage your staff to work in the office on certain days as well. Whether this is for group projects or for team meetings, bringing people together in person can help create more meaningful connections and foster more effective communication by bridging that gap.

“Even younger generations will admit that it’s easier to get to know someone and feel empathetic toward them if you’ve been around them in person rather than solely over a webcam,” says Michael Fischer, Founder of Elite HRT. “If your workplace is struggling with communication because you have certain people that like to work from home and rarely come into the office, you may be facing a workplace format communication issue rather than a multigenerational workplace problem.”

Foster Open Communication

Open communication is so critical to effective communication in the multigenerational workplace. As a couple of these ideas have mentioned, building relationships can be a big part of this open communication concept. If your staff understand each other on a personal level, they’re more likely to facilitate their own communication with other generations.

“Open communication and dialogue about issues or victories in terms of communication should be welcome in the multigenerational workplace,” says Maegan Griffin, Founder and CEO of Skin Pharm. “Allowing your team time to form relationships and discuss their communication preferences among themselves can help your entire workplace function better with a better understanding of coworkers.”

Conclusion

Fostering effective communication in the multigenerational workplace is no walk in the park, but it’s something that can be done with great success in a way that benefits everyone. Building relationships and providing a workplace or environment where people can express themselves, their preferences, and learn about one another is an important component of fostering effective communication in the multigenerational workplace.

Additionally, you’ll want to make sure you’re leading with intentionality to set an example for your team while doing your best to let your staff know that they’re heard. You can do this through conversation, investment in tools to help with communication, or adjusting policies and practices to meet different needs.


Tags


You may also like

Video Enhancing Software
{"email":"Email address invalid","url":"Website address invalid","required":"Required field missing"}