Today’s workforce is more generationally diverse than ever before, as many people work well past traditional retirement ages, often taking on second careers later in life. Generational divides can lead to divisions within companies, but handled correctly, the right combination of innovative technology and a strong corporate culture can bridge the gap between generations in the workforce.
Workplaces Across The Country Are Adjusting To A New, Technologically-Driven Reality
Technology has transformed the workforce. Turn back the clock a few generations and most offices used typewriters rather than computers. Yet in the modern economy, digital technology drives the workplace.
Today, the increase in remote work and a greater reliance on digital communication has created a technologically-driven workplace. Members of the youngest generations are all digital natives – they grew up using digital technology – and tend to appreciate this shift. On the other hand, people who have been in the workforce for decades and who are used to doing things a certain way might struggle to keep up with the changes.
The near future will also bring major changes to the workforce. Over the next several years, an estimated 75 million Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) will retire. Organizations need a plan to pass on key information and skills in a streamlined way, and technology can help preserve that institutional knowledge.
Understanding The Generational Tech Divide Across Teams
Generations are not monoliths – and stereotypes can widen generational divides. Broadly, however, generations tend to react differently to new technology. As workplaces continue to evolve technologically, it’s more important than ever to take steps to bridge generational gaps.
The most effective teams bring together employees with complementary skills. Diverse generational perspectives can strengthen teams – if companies understand the generational tech divide.
Employees Demonstrate Different Levels Of Ability And Willingness To Adopt New Tech
Research shows that younger generations are more willing to adopt new technologies than their older counterparts. Yet while the older generations lag behind in their use of smartphones and social media, they’re still adopting new technologies at a faster rate than ever before.
What does that mean in the workforce? When implementing new systems or tools, organizations need to consider onboarding processes from a multi-generational perspective. In doing so, it’s possible to earn the buy-in of employees by emphasizing the benefits of changes and offering training tools that leverage the strengths of individuals within your workforce.
Technology Changes The Way Generations Communicate
Speaking generally, Gen Z prefers online communication, Millennials avoid phone calls, and Boomers prefer phone calls or in-person interactions. Generations communicate differently, and technology continues to affect those preferences.
However, some generational preferences might surprise you. In a recent survey, Gen Z employees said they preferred face-to-face communication in professional settings, especially when talking to managers.
How can workplaces understand and leverage communication preferences? In this area, it’s important not to paint with too wide a brush. While generational preferences show up in surveys, organizations benefit from individualizing their approach for each employee.
Many Things Can Drive Generations Apart, But Technology Doesn’t Have To Be One Of Them
There are many ways to bridge generation gaps in the workforce. When it comes to technology, implementing knowledge sharing policies and exploring collaboration technologies can bring people together.
Help Employees Communicate And Collaborate Beyond Traditional Boundaries
Employees communicate and collaborate on daily tasks as well as broad organizational goals. Multi-generational organizations have many communication and collaboration tools at their disposal. But are they using these tools effectively?
Some tools work well for quick check-ins, while longer conversations might require a different strategy. Similarly, new project management platforms can boost collaboration across generations – but only if teams know how to use them and actually do so rather than rely on workarounds.
Improve Knowledge Sharing Across Global Teams And Generations
Knowledge sharing is a critical objective, particularly for global organizations. Implementing digital mentorship programs that cross international and generational boundaries can help organizations make the most of their strengths, and companies that avoid knowledge loss through technology will have a major edge.
Documenting processes and creating professional relationship databases helps organizations collaborate better and leverage their strengths. Technology can improve international communication as well as lessen generational miscommunications.
Eliminate Inefficiencies, Optimize Operations, and Improve Profitability
Technology can identify inefficient processes, optimize operations, and boost profitability. All generations benefit from these improvements. Consider how collaborative tools like content management platforms and video conferencing can bring teams together.
Integrate collaboration technologies into processes to maximize the benefits, or consider the ways automation can make a workplace operate seamlessly. Evaluate technology policies and processes with a multigenerational workforce in mind.
The Importance of Change Management
In order for technology to be a bridge rather than a barrier, companies must incorporate change management to ensure the adoption of new systems, processes and technologies. An effective change management methodology helps employees to understand, embrace and adapt to changes within an organization. Change management begins in the earliest stages of planning and selection through implementation and adoption.
With a failure rate of approximately 50 percent, change initiatives require strong leadership. Hartman Executive Advisors is an IT leadership and advisory firm that helps executives develop and execute IT strategies that align people, process and technology to enable their business goals. To learn more about our leadership and change management methodology, contact Hartman today.