TAP INTO THE GAP - Effectively Bridge the Generation Gap to Improve Business Results

For the first time in history, we have the unique benefit and challenge of five different generations in the workforce today. These generations include the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z, all working side-by-side, each with their own unique perspectives, experiences, and skills. The vast wealth of knowledge held by this expansive labor force is integral to the sustainability of all business units. However, without an effective way of bridging the communication gap between the generations, businesses will suffer detrimental consequences in the years to come.

Communication is most often at the root of both success and failure, which has never been more apparent among workforces than it is today. Since the pandemic started, company culture has become a higher priority for job seekers. Part of that new expectation is the push for businesses to align goals and objectives with diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives. In doing so, businesses must also actively encourage and provide direction on how employees are expected to communicate and collaborate across generational boundaries.

A recent study by Strategic HR (Survey of the Generations) revealed the following about communication preferences among the five generations:

  • The Silent Generation prefers face-to-face communication.
  • Baby Boomers prefer scheduled meetings.
  • Gen X’ers prefer email.
  • Gen Y’ers prefer email or text.
  • Gen Z’ers prefer text or face-to-face communication.

Isn’t it interesting how we’ve come full circle in terms of communication preferences from the Silent Generation to Generation Z? Maybe the answer to bridging the gap begins with identifying what they have in common instead of focusing on what sets them apart?

Think about how you begin conversations with strangers, maybe at a party or networking event. I bet you typically start with a generic introduction and quickly try to determine a common area of interest to keep the conversation going. Otherwise, it becomes awkward, right? The same concept applies to conversations among peers in different generations. Encourage conversations that help them learn what they have in common. Those commonalities lay the foundation for building a relationship of mutual respect and trust. Understanding each other’s preferred communication style leads to more effective conversations and helps avoid misunderstandings. This focused effort on forging working relationships among different age groups lessens the burden of sharing knowledge and training across the generational continuum.

One of the key advantages of having multiple generations in the workforce is the diversity of thought and experience that each generation brings. For example, Baby Boomers tend to have more experience and can share valuable knowledge and insights with younger generations. On the other hand, Millennials and Gen Z have grown up with technology and can bring fresh perspectives and innovative ideas to the table.

Breaking down the barriers between age groups can help to reduce stereotypes and biases and create a more inclusive and collaborative work environment. Additionally, having a mix of generations in the workplace can lead to better problem-solving and decision-making. By bringing together people with different backgrounds and experiences, a more comprehensive understanding of issues can be developed, which can help to identify solutions that may not have been considered otherwise.

Employing multiple generations can also benefit the organization in terms of employee retention and engagement. Younger employees are more likely to stay with a company that values their opinions and provides opportunities for growth and development. Older employees are motivated by similar needs for belonging and purpose. Collaboration between them can be accomplished by mentor-mentee relationships and reverse mentoring where younger/newer employees share knowledge and skills with tenured staff. Both have the opportunity to gain confidence and respect while working together to move the business forward. By creating an environment that values the contributions of all generations, organizations can improve employee morale, motivation, and productivity. And let’s face it, a motivated and engaged workforce always has a positive impact on the bottom line thanks to the domino effect.

Ultimately, having multiple generations in the workforce is becoming increasingly important in today's rapidly changing business environment. Organizations that recognize the value of diversity and inclusion will be better positioned to attract and retain top talent, foster innovation, and stay ahead of the competition. By embracing the unique strengths and perspectives of each generation, organizations can create a dynamic and collaborative work environment that benefits everyone.


Senior HR Advisor, HR Services

With a lifelong interest in relationship management and a deep curiosity for human behavior in the workplace, Rema Gray began her payroll and HR career over 25 years ago. She pursued a degree in Psychology from the University of South Alabama and parlayed her education and training into a Human Resource Management career. Her experience ranges from managing the intricacies of human capital growth and development of small local businesses to developing teams and managers for large national corporations. She has worked in many industries, including chemical plants and oil refineries, business services, retail, and many other spaces. She currently manages HR for Crescent Payroll Solutions, contributing to the creation of policies and procedures, measuring and managing organizational risk, organizing, training, and developing of the operations team, and maintaining a high level of employee engagement. Rema’s passion is getting everyone in the proverbial boat rowing in the same direction. She believes employee commitment to the organization’s Mission, Vision, and Values is not only essential to the achievement of its goals but also paramount to the overall health and sustainability of the organization itself.

“Human Resources is a basic term to describe a dynamic topic. Focusing on the human part of it is integral to the success of any employee-based business.”