If you work in a large company, you must have heard about problems generated by the generational conflict at work.
The differences between generations in the work environment arise because, currently, we have in the market, professionals born from the 50s to the 2000s.
It must be considered that the world changes and becomes increasingly modern and, with it, the ways of acting in the job market are also transformed.
These changes have positive and negative aspects and, of course, they don't happen overnight.
As they are gradual changes, it is part of the routine of almost all companies to deal with employees of different generations. This often generates some generational conflicts in the work environment. It is the responsibility of the HR sector to deal with these issues.
To help you better understand this problem, we prepared this post, which addresses what generational conflict is and how the Human Resources department can handle the issue.
What is generation gap?
We call generational conflicts at work all frictions related to old and current ways of working, which occur between employees of very different age groups.
Currently, they are in the job market, 3 generations of professionals:
- Baby Boomers;
- Generation X;
- Y generation.
These are generations that have very different characteristics, after all, professionals were raised in very different social and economic contexts.
To understand the roots of generational conflicts at work, it is important to know more about each of them.
Baby Boomers are professionals born between the 1940s and 1960s, in a context in which the world was recovering economically and socially from two great World Wars. At that time, education was quite rigid and based on discipline.
From a professional point of view, Baby Boomers are people who entered the job market very early and out of need for sustenance. They did not have much freedom of choice in their careers and hardly attended college before entering the profession.
Generation X is made up of people born between the 1960s and 1980s. This generation was formed in a context of many transformations and witnessed major milestones in history, such as revolutionary movements and political coups.
Gen X professionals had more choice over their careers than Baby Boomers and academically prepared for them.
Finally, we have those born between the 1980s and 2000s: the famous Generation Y.
Marked by the daily contact with technological change and a very favorable historical and economic context, the professionals of this generation were able to base their professional trajectory according to their desires.
It is a generation of people who seek the “dream job” and who had enough academic preparation to enter the job market.
What causes the generation gap at work?
It is worth remembering that the biggest transformations in the world, especially when it comes to technology, have been taking place for less than 150 years. Just think of the small space of time that separates the invention of the electric light bulb and the emergence of the internet, for example.
Therefore, more than ever, the generations present in companies have learned to work using very different resources and tools. This even influences their way of thinking and solving problems in the work environment.
The Baby Boomer generation, for example, has work as their main priority, they act with focus on results and are usually quite competitive.
They have difficulty using technology on a daily basis, they see leadership as a position of control and struggle with the loss of status within the company.
Generation X professionals, in turn, are very dedicated to their work and are committed to the values and objectives of the company in which they work.
As leaders, they value the competence of their subordinates and are afraid of being fired.
They are people who seek a balance between professional and personal life, in addition to dealing well with technology.
Read more: 5 reasons to invest in technology in companies
In contrast, the Y generation already born hyperconnected. Among their main characteristics, these professionals are:
- they look for challenges;
- value flexibility in the work environment;
- seek jobs that align with their personal values.
These professionals have good self-esteem, are multitaskers and like to get out of the rut.
However, they are often impulsive and have problems with closed processes and bureaucracy.
As you can already imagine, in the face of so many innovations in companies and in the market, most professionals of the previous generation fear losing ground to the professionals of generation Y.
Now that we have talked a little about generations and mentioned aspects of the differences between them in the work environment, we will go a step further, trying to explain the role of HR in this new scenario.
How should HR handle this situation?
The behavioral profile differences listed above are quite significant and can cause generational conflicts at work, which directly affect the harmony between teams. At this point, HR must act strategically and act as a mediator.
The first step is to maintain an open dialogue between managers and the team, in addition to encouraging this to happen among employees as well.
For this, it can be interesting to create friendly and relaxed moments. In this way, employees can get to know each other better and deconstruct possible labels about their co-workers.
In the face of open dialogue, it is much easier to improve the organizational climate and create a collaborative environment where everyone can learn from each other's strengths.
This is also an opportunity to make each feel more valued in their positive abilities.
Finally, knowing the particularities of each of the generations is a way of learn to manage employees smarter, respecting their restrictions, working on their strengths and helping them to overcome their difficulties.
Working on emotional intelligence at work is another positive way of dealing with the generation gap in companies.
In addition to a more harmonious environment, the company also gains in productivity and results.
Is it possible to prevent the generation gap in the workplace?
According to a survey carried out by Amcham Brasil, currently, 75% of companies in the country face problems related to the generation gap at work. A very significant number that represents the reality of most large companies.
But, after all, is it possible to prevent this situation? THE answer is no.
This would only be possible if the company chose to hire employees exclusively from one generation. Which is harmful to the health of the enterprise as a whole, since diversity is one of the most important factors for the success of a company.
However, it is possible to find ways to avoid conflicts.
It is necessary to have leaders with current characteristics, who understand their fundamental role at this moment, acting to foster an environment of collaboration and harmony, in which all employees feel valued.
The diversity of age groups within a company can cause generational conflict at work, however, it is a valuable tool for the constant growth of the organization.
If you want to know more about this, take the opportunity to read our post about the benefits of diversity in companies.
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