Managing Four Generations Virtually

As Gen Z enters the workforce, many Boomers, even those who are well into retirement age, are still going strong. Add into that Millennials and Gen X, and you’ve got four different generations working side by side. How do you manage a workforce whose life experiences are so different from one another—especially in today’s world, where working virtually is becoming the norm. Here are a few tips for managing four different generations of employees in a virtual environment.

Don’t Assume

Each generation has its own stereotype. Boomers are seen as old, out of touch, and technologically illiterate, while Gen Z is viewed as being permanently glued to their phones. But it’s important to remember that everybody’s different.

Don’t assume that the Boomers won’t be able to log onto a Zoom call without help, or that they’ll struggle with editing a group Google Doc. Likewise, don’t assume that Millennials and Gen Z will be lazy and not want to work as hard as Boomers or Gen X. Nor should you simply ignore Gen X, the “latchkey kid generation,” and assume that they’ll be just fine on their own while you struggle to keep peace between Boomers and Millennials.

People are all different. They might surprise you, if you’ll let them. But they’ll never have that chance if you make up your minds about them right away, and pigeon-hole them as a particular type. Rather than treating them as Boomers, Millennials, Gen X, and Gen Z, evaluate each employee as an individual and get to know what their needs are, and their areas of expertise.

Teach and Learn

Sometimes the stereotypes are true. Maybe you’ll have a Boomer employee who struggles to keep up with the technology required for working virtually. Be patient with them. You might even assign one of your younger and more tech-savvy employees to help them.

By the same token, you may find some of your younger employees don’t yet have much experience with fulltime corporate jobs. It doesn’t mean they’re lazy, or that they’re “too busy on TikTok to do any real work.” It just means they need someone to help them navigate workplace culture. Perhaps one of your older and more experienced employees can help them.

Each generation has their own experiences and their own skillsets. Encourage them to share their knowledge with one another and help each other, rather than being judgmental of those who are older or younger than they are.

It also helps to find something that they all share in common: something they can all relate to and even bond over. This will help them work together more effectively and increase overall productivity. Some basic teamwork exercises and even a group outing or two can help your employees bond across generations and get to know one another, which will in turn help them work well together.

In the end, communication is key. It’s up to you to communicate with your employees of all ages, to see where their skills lie, what their needs are, and how you can help them. It’s also up to you to foster communication between your employees, across generations, so that they can help each other. In doing that, you’ll foster a better working environment for everyone.