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Bridging the Gap

Let Generational Differences Unite, Not Divide, Your Company Culture ~ August 2016

By Kathleen Quinn Votaw

If a prospective employee with purple hair, a nose ring and tattoos shows up for a job interview, biases and filters are certain to unfold.

On both sides of the table.

Older interviewers commonly lose sight of the notion that younger job seekers hold their own biases regarding different generations and how they conduct business. Chances are, our hypothetical Millennial knew a great deal about the company and the interviewer, down to what he or she looks like, before walking in the door.

Today’s job seekers, regardless of age, have choices that years ago were unimaginable. Gone are the days of taking a job simply because a company extended an offer.

This is especially the case among Millennials – those born roughly between 1977 and 1994 − who are expected to comprise half of the global workforce by 2020. Numbering 75 million in U.S. population, they have become the largest workplace generational cohort and recently surpassed Baby Boomers as the nation’s largest living generation, according to the Pew Research Center. Generation X is not far behind.

Business leaders who fail to understand this shift are not only missing out on opportunity, but risking their own survival in an inevitably changing landscape.

The solution becomes finding ways to bridge these gaps so that a tech- and social media-savvy young set in search of meaningful work can learn from, and respect, its more seasoned colleagues who understand the past, and vice versa.

Working together to empower younger generations can only help your company grow … beyond your years and theirs.

Know the Millennial mindset

Try not to …

… ignore Millennials or view them as obstacles. They are here to stay.

rush to judge someone who could turn out to be an asset to your company.

label or joke about generations.

Do try to …

… focus on the opportunities that lie in having Millennials as part of the work mix.

… develop strategies to attract Millennials, who will in turn tap that customer market.

… create mentorship programs to help eliminate “filter-out” thinking.

… provide training for less-experienced team members, who want to feel valued.

… embrace both traditional practices, as well as change and innovation, in the workplace.

… involve your company in social entrepreneurship initiatives that reward and add purpose.

… encourage communication and transparency.

This content is from my new book, Solve the People Puzzle: How High-Growth Companies Attract and Retain Top Talent. The book features compelling research, specific personal and client stories, and key perspectives from top business leaders and experts--all in a format that's easy to read and prompts readers to act. It's an executive's guide to finding, keeping and growing the best. Buy it on Amazon today.  



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