Bridging the Generational Gap – Part III: an HR Perspective

by Brandi Nicholson-Burley, Career Facilitator

For the final installment in “Bridging the Generational Gap,” I wanted to bring an HR perspective to the series. I interviewed Joshua Moening, Human Resources Business Partner at Goodwill Columbus who’s been in HR for over 10 years. Here’s what he had to say:

Brandi: How do you feel like businesses are impacted when the workforce is comprised of multiple generations?

Joshua: It gives you multiple perspectives and adds depth to the business. You can look at a problem with different perspectives, instead of gathering thoughts from one likeminded generation that may lean in a certain way. There’s more knowledge and tools that you can have at your disposal when you have more generations and life experiences in the workplace.

Brandi: What tips would you give to our readers and potential clients out there if they are working in an environment where there are multiple generations or there is age diversity? How would you help them navigate a place like that?

Joshua:

  1. Assuming positive intent.
  2. Encourage dialogue and not debate. Debates have winners, but dialogue has open conversation and discussion.  When you have dialogue with employees across multiple generations and assume positive intent- you are going to get a better conversation and more productivity out of it. You’ll get less conflict and a more positive environment.
  3. Training is important. During trainings, talk about the different generations in the workplace, the unique point we’re in in the workplace, and talk about the strengths they offer and leverage that. When you have those positive relationships, it will encourage more conversations. You can talk about the realities [of the workplace] out there and come together with solutions.
  4. Be Flexible- As the workforce changes, the workplace needs to change. For example, working from home was an obstacle many companies had before the pandemic due to the frigidity of the past, but now, they must be open to change.

Brandi: So, I loved what you said about encouraging dialogue and not debate, I haven’t heard that before.  Do you have any tips for managers that want to start a dialogue?

Joshua: Look at who comprises your workforce and examine the makeup and dynamics. Then you can start finding good trainings and resources out there to guide those conversations. Also, make sure you are educating yourself as a manager and getting input from the group. Make sure you are letting people participate in it. Make it collaborative and fun! Also, make sure you are presenting it in a way where they will take value from it and contribute to it. Know what you want to get out of the training!

Brandi: When we talk about age diversity in the workplace, what are some things employees and employers need to avoid?

Joshua: Avoid stereotypes, microaggressions, and the subtleties in that. Make sure you are consistent in processes. Understand age doesn’t dictate abilities. Avoid making assumptions and avoid biases (conscious and unconscious).

Brandi: So, in the unfortunate instance someone is experiencing discrimination or bias, how would you direct our readers out there to resolve this?

Joshua: For HR, follow the investigative process, and make sure due diligence is done. Follow consistent practices, do proper coaching (including disciplinary actions), and then make sure to do training. If you see a trend that you didn’t think was present in the workplace that resulted in the occurrence, make sure you are doing trainings for everyone. Have a dialogue with the person who caused the issue, AND the victim. Own the blame, and make sure the victim knows that they are supported and that there is no place for that in the workplace. During coaching, incorporate the value of having multiple generations in the workplace. You must look into the organization internally in order to move the workplace forward.

When people feel valued and welcomed in their workplace, no matter their age, there is increased engagement, productivity, and enjoyment, which contributes to the success of the company.

Well there you have it folks! If you’re reading this blog and would like to learn more about Bridging the Generational Gap at Work, don’t forget to read installments 1 & 2 of the series. If you’re interested in learning about other ways to succeed in your work environment, make sure to like and follow us on Facebook!

Until next time,

Brandi

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