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June 16, 2020

Gen X and Millennials in the Workplace: Fostering a Cohesive Culture

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When it comes to navigating change in the workplace, managers have their work cut out for them. The two largest employed generations—Generation X and millennials—tend to view the world differently, and that can impact workplace learning. Motivating the two groups simultaneously can be a challenge.

For example, Gen Xers typically don't mind working in teams, but they value their independence and like to work on their own, according to King University. Millennials, meanwhile, prefer a team environment and seek frequent feedback from their peers.

Despite these differences, Gen X and millennials in the workplace also have many traits in common. Both are technologically literate and view managers either as equals (millennials) or as arbiters (Gen X), rather than authority figures, King University reported.

The key to supporting differing working styles is to leverage your training program to deliver strategies that encourage bonding in a mixed-generation workforce, drawing on both their similarities and differences.

Facilitate social learning

If generational differences are deterring collaboration, then you're not maximizing the value of your learning initiatives. Offer social learning opportunities to foster deeper comprehension and connection among learners. Social learning is the act of individuals collaborating and coaching one another. Since face-to-face knowledge sharing might not always be feasible, leverage your learning management system (LMS) to provide a virtual space for users to exchange ideas. Fostering this collaboration will empower your learners to bridge the Gen X-millennial divide and achieve a more thorough and unified understanding of the curriculum.

Develop a mentoring program

Cultivate a robust learning culture by implementing a mentoring program. Pair a Gen Xer with a millennial in the workplace, or even foster the connection remotely. The Gen Xer can ensure that the millennials hone soft skills, such as active listening, sensitivity to different communication styles and other leadership skills—areas where Forbes noted millennials need support.

Then, have the pair switch up who is the mentor and who is the protégé. There is a great deal that Gen Xers can learn from millennials, such as how best to leverage technology to work smarter instead of harder.

Recognize differing personal lives

Company social outings for events like birthdays or summer barbecues are a fun way for coworkers to unwind. But it may be easier for younger workers, who are more likely to be single, to adapt to most outings. Plus, social distancing guidelines may prevent these events all together. Make sure these kinds of events are appropriate for all ages and abide by local safety regulations.

Tap a learning management system that delivers eLearning, in addition to having the capacity to collect open-ended feedback. Polls designed to sample data from a select learner audience or your entire organization will grant insight into what kinds of events are most inclusive. This will demonstrate that you are cognizant of the fact that people are in different chapters in their lives, and what's fun for some may not be for others.

Encourage friendly competition

Note that "friendly" is the operative word here. Are your workers fully engaged in your company- or department-wide learning? Or, are they just going through the motions?

One way to approach this is by engaging learners with gamification. People of all ages like to win, and making a game out of your training curriculum can get the competitive juices flowing and drive higher performance.

These are just a few ideas to get started, so look to your employees to offer input based on their individual needs and preferences. So much of what makes a business successful is the happiness of your employees—and their capacity to share and learn from one another.

Connect with an Absorb LMS representative to enhance your engagement with Gen X and millennials in the workplace.

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