5 Best Practices For Managing A Multigenerational Workforce

For the first time ever, organizations are employing a truly multigenerational workforce. One reason five generations—from Traditionalists to Gen-Z—are now working side by side is population aging. The World Health Organization estimates that between 2015 and 2050, the proportion of the world’s population over 60 will nearly double from 12% to 22%.

According to a study from Bain & Company, by 2030, a whopping 150 million jobs will shift to workers over the age of 55. A multigenerational workforce comes with distinct challenges. With each generation valuing different communication styles, it can lead to conflicts and misunderstandings. Negative generational stereotypes can also result in tension between co-workers. And let’s not forget age discrimination—another potential threat that can lead to low morale and even legal issues.

Fortunately, the benefits of a generationally diverse workforce outweigh the potential drawbacks. Multiple generations promote the sharing of different perspectives, aiding innovation and problem-solving. Different age groups also create mentorship opportunities, allowing each group to share their skills and knowledge with one another. Finally, a multigenerational workforce naturally creates a more robust talent pipeline, which makes succession planning easier.

Today’s workforce is more complex than ever. Yet, organizations that can harness the strengths of each generation hold a significant competitive edge. Let’s review five best practices for leading a multigenerational workforce.

Debunk False Stereotypes

Stereotypes can negatively impact the workplace by creating barriers to collaboration and a hostile work environment. Instead, acknowledge the existence of unconscious biases and take proactive steps to address them. Encourage your team to debunk the myths by embracing a learning mindset. One way to do this is to create workshops and seminars that discuss the negative impact of stereotyping and how to break the cycle. Another idea is to develop role-playing exercises so employees can practice interacting in different workplace situations. By investing in diversity training and education, you’ll contribute to a more inclusive culture.

Focus On Shared Values

While there are differences between age groups, they also have shared values. According to McKinsey research, people’s expectations and needs are much the same across generations. Nearly all employees want similar things from their work experience, including:

  • Flexibility
  • Meaningful projects
  • Caring leadership
  • Adequate compensation
  • Career development opportunities


Instead of leaning into generational stereotypes, the research suggests it is more important to treat employees as unique individuals. By focusing on the commonalities, you’ll be more likely to retain workers and win the competition for top talent.

Adopt A Flexible Management Style

Managing a multigenerational workforce requires more than a one-size-fits-all approach. Instead, the most influential leaders embrace flexible leadership. Flexible leaders consider each person’s background, personality, experience and preferences and adapt to meet their needs. Managers adopting an adaptive style recognize that workplace dynamics are ever-changing. As a result, they recognize when to provide guidance or autonomy to achieve the best possible team performance.

Foster Generational Collaboration

One of the biggest benefits of a multigenerational workforce is leveraging the diverse perspectives, skill sets and experiences of multiple age groups. To promote collaboration, establish mentorship programs. Mentoring can be conducted traditionally—pairing a more senior employee with someone new—or vice versa. Reverse mentoring allows a younger employee to mentor their more experienced counterpart, which brings a fresh perspective to problem-solving. Forming cross-generational teams can also lead to enhanced productivity and performance. By bringing together co-workers from different generations, you’ll encourage knowledge-sharing and creative solutions.

Encourage Open Dialogue

Research conducted by The Workforce Institute at UKG revealed that an overwhelming majority (86%) of employees feel their co-workers aren’t heard equally. In particular, underrepresented voices like younger employees and those identifying with underserved races and ethnicities feel less understood than their counterparts. Yet, when employees feel valued, they are more engaged. “When employees don’t feel heard or feel their needs aren’t met, they are less likely to maximize their talents and experience at their workplace—and more likely to seek those opportunities elsewhere,” said Dan Schawbel, managing partner at Workplace Intelligence. When managing a multigenerational workforce, help team members find ways to communicate openly. In addition to employee surveys and team-building exercises, some other ways to empower workers include:

  • Encouraging employees to participate in meetings
  • Rewarding employees for voicing their opinions
  • Responding to employee concerns once they are raised


Finally, lead by example. When managers are open to feedback, it cultivates an environment that people can thrive in.

Unlocking the power of a multigenerational workforce involves a combination of flexibility, emotional intelligence and self-awareness. By leveraging the unique strengths and perspectives of a diverse team, you’ll drive your organization forward and ensure sustainable business growth.


Resource: GWFM Study & Research