There are usually multiple age groups on the average job site, which is a positive thing. This article highlights worker personas within these age groups and explains how contractors manage generation gaps to make employees more cohesive.
Job site management isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach, so as a manager you should do your best to identify each employee’s individual skills and figure out in what circumstances those people can produce their best work.
Younger employees can benefit from the experience and wisdom of senior employees, just like older individuals can look to younger people for fresh perspectives – especially when it comes to technology. It’s all about how you as manager adapt to their different mindsets and communication styles.
Traditionalists (born in 1945 or earlier)
Traditionalists were raised during the Great Depression and most likely worked for one employer during their career. These loyal workers typically are known for having great interpersonal skills, a strong work ethic and resourcefulness with minimal tools.
Baby Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964)
Confident, competitive and efficient, Baby Boomers often prefer to communicate by phone or in person. They value regular meetings, teamwork, effective policies and a manager’s genuine concern for each worker.
Baby Boomers are more likely to keep working past their retirement and their extensive work experience makes them great trainers for younger employees. They also tend to be skilled policy-makers with a knack for writing and implementing winning job proposals.
These folks, along with Traditionalists, often feel behind the curve when it comes to using new technology on the job site.
Generation X (born between 1965 and 1980)
Because Generation X employees grew up amid multiple technology breakthroughs, they tend to work well with powered tools and digital devices. Additionally, they typically feel comfortable supervising and mentoring others.
Often considered somewhat skeptical and independent, Generation X workers are usually great with individual tasks. Recognition and growth opportunities are key for this group.
Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996)
Having a mix of independent and collaborative traits, Millennials believe work processes naturally evolve. They have high expectations when it comes to being driven by special assignments and problem-solving opportunities outside their normal duties.
A key differentiator for Millennials is they don’t respond well under conservative management. They welcome open collaboration but condemn a formal meeting structure. (They believe meetings should only be held when absolutely necessary.)
Millennials seek validation, approval and increased responsibility on the job site. Additional training opportunities and employee reviews are also ideal.
Being very tech-oriented, these professionals are more comfortable emailing, texting or instant messaging. They don’t get very excited about outdated technology. Rather, they favor newer developments like the cloud and devices tied to the Internet of Things (IoT) as well as helping the environment by means of corporate and social responsibility.
Millennials care about finding work-life balance with merit preceding seniority. They value responsibility as well as achieving their life goals and having fun.
Generation Z (1997 to present day)
Very similar to Millennials in many ways, Generation Z employees rely heavily on technology. This relatively new generation is made up of entrepreneurial multitaskers who have a special appreciation for internships and apprenticeships.
How contractors manage generation gaps
- Encourage employees to train one another and build interpersonal relationships.
- Ease older generations into technology adoption.
- Never abandon traditional face-to-face conversations and phone calls.
- Be open to flexible work schedules as long as they’re reasonable for your business.
- Make an effort to recognize and reward your crew members.
- Make sure all age groups are aware of your leadership direction.
- Be open to learning from your employees – no matter their age.
- Embrace new terminology and slang.
- Facilitate a culture of communication.
- Promote teamwork.
All these generations have something in common – a strong appreciation for mission and purpose. Ultimately, one of your main goals should be to educate employees on how they fit into your business.