From an HR perspective, the arrival of Generation Z in the workplace presents an exciting opportunity for organisations to change the way they manage diversity and the wide range of talent they employ.

For the first time we now have a wide pool of talent that we can draw from and rather than anticipating a cross-generational conflict, HR can use their role as both employee advocate and business partner to embrace this change. The fact that “only 45% of employers and 20% of employees openly talk about retirement” demonstrates that there is a communication gap around age.  However it’s an HR priority to encourage open and positive dialogue, to create initiatives and policies that enable people to maximise their performance and development in the workplace whatever their generation.

Many organisations struggle to fully utilise the full potential of their teams. A spectrum of ages in the workplace is an advantage, it allows for different viewpoints, skills and strengths to work together. Workers from all generations can learn from each other, leveraging their own unique experiences and points of view to improve the way we work and reach an even more diverse customer base.

As a manager, it’s important to understand and acknowledge these differences to avoid misunderstandings and to help your team work effectively to meet its goals. Although some employees may not portray all of their generation’s characteristics, understanding the different generational styles will help with team building,  increasing productivity and embracing change.

Each generation has its own preferred communication style, as well as distinct values and feedback needs. Conflicts between Baby Boomers, Generation X, Y and Z often occurs when communication and engagement falters. It’s the role of HR to bridge gaps – both real and imagined – through communication, culture, and engagement in service of the business needs.

Everyone has a need for recognition, access to the resources they need to do their job and meaningful feedback from their leader. Therefore, it’s important to learn how to flex your communication style in order to create an environment where people can really play to their strengths. Emphasise commonalities and shared goals at an organisational level, whilst acknowledging each person’s valued and unique contribution.  

It is vital for managers of multi-generational teams to understand the needs and customs of each generation to ensure they can celebrate and harness those differences to maximise employee engagement and performance.