Image courtesy of Knoll Inc.
Over the last year, the traditional workplace has evolved dramatically because of the COVID-19 pandemic and a new hybrid workstyle that many organizations are currently embracing. Adding additional complexity, is the fact that for the first time in history corporations are also seeing five different generations of employees in the workplace at one time. Organizations are now faced with creating work environments to accommodate the changing needs and desires of associates at a more rapid pace than ever before.
To begin creating a workplace that embraces multiple generations, it is important to understand key values and behaviors that differentiate them.
- The Silent Generation refers to individuals born between 1926 and 1945. This generation was shaped by events like the Great Depression and WWII and is known for their strong work ethic and loyalty.
- The Baby Boomers were at one time the largest generation in the workforce, until their offspring the Millennials began to seek employment. Baby Boomers are driven by goals and deadlines, and they associate technology with productivity and not necessarily social interaction.
- Generation X consists of individuals born between 1965 and 1979 and is the generation that came into adulthood just as technology began rapidly evolving. Generation X was the first generation to emphasize a preference to using email as a main form of workplace communication and introduced the concept of work-life-balance.
- Millennials include individuals born from 1980 to 1994 and are now the largest generation existing in the workplace. Millennials are extremely comfortable with evolving technology, and they value flexibility. This generation prefers collaborative work over individual and is responsible for the rise of social media in the workplace.
- Generation Z is the newest group to enter the workplace and includes individuals born between 1995 and 2010. Generation Z is passionate about diversity, community and independence in the workplace.
So how do corporations create a work environment that benefits each of these unique generations?
Charlis Brock, Executive Vice President and Market Executive at CBI says, “One of the first things an organization should think about when building an environment to suit multiple generations is creating a corporate culture that embraces all ages. This might mean communicating the same message in multiple ways, providing mixed-use spaces and technology solutions to accommodate different workstyles, and fostering a workplace culture that celebrates inclusion versus exclusion. Gone are the days where there is only one way to achieve a common goal. Organizations are realizing there are new ways to achieve success and leveraging their built environments to do so.”
Since each generation works a little bit differently, flexibility is key for many organizations wishing to adapt to the needs of their associates. Over the last decade, there has been a steady shift in how the work environment looks and feels with the focus being on the type of work being completed each day phasing out the traditional concept of having to provide a desk for each unique associate. Many organizations encourage employees to utilize cafes, social areas and meeting rooms for collaborative projects and quick touch bases. These types of areas draw in Generations like Millennials and Gen Z, while private offices and individual desking still offers the Silent Generation and Baby Boomers a more traditional way of working. The COVID-19 pandemic and the introduction of remote work as a long-term concept has only added to the idea that flexibility is necessary for employees to thrive and meet their maximum potential, and will continue to be a major theme in the workplace going forward.
CBI has helped many of our clients create welcoming and adaptive work environments that embrace all generations. Learn more about how we do this via our workplace consulting services or by contacting us for a consultation.
Additionally, our partners at Knoll recently launched a white paper specifically about the newest generation entering the workplace – Generation Z. See it here and learn more about how this up and coming generation will continue to push us to continue evolving the workplace.