Generations C, Y, X and baby boomers: Strengthening intergenerational collaboration Premium

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Generations C, Y, X, and baby boomers: four generations of people in the same workforce. What will tomorrow’s companies look like? What kinds of changes are on their way in terms of business and talent management? How can you start leveraging the skills of people of all ages and reinforce intergenerational collaboration?

Generational diversity enables companies to minimize talent shortages, remain in sync with customers, and promote creativity!

Although baby boomers were still the largest age group in the workplace in 2010, Generations Y and C will account for almost 60% of the workforce by 2020. This change will have a major impact on HR policies, including recruitment, retention, motivation, and collaboration. To adapt to this change, leaders must adopt a customized management style, which is capable of adapting to the specific needs of individuals

Three keys to successful intergenerational management:

1. Identify the specific characteristics and expectations of each generation: A May 2012 study by Google shows that, contrary to popular belief, 71% of senior executives in Europe use social networks at least once a day, compared to barely 49% of younger executives. This finding suggests the importance of not making assumptions about people based on their age group and of staying in touch with people of all generations; notably, by carrying out internal satisfaction surveys and inviting individuals to connect on Web 2.0 platforms.
2. Adopt a personalized management style: For a multi-generational work group to create value effectively, all group members must feel their voice is being heard. Leaders should thus promote individual initiative, allowing team members to choose their own work methods. The challenge is guaranteeing equal treatment for everyone, while at the same time not ignoring the specific needs of each age group.
3. Promote intergenerational collaboration: In order to foster a climate of trust, leaders need to build credibility between generations. There are numerous ways to do so: intergenerational workgroups make it possible to emphasize the strengths of each group; bilateral mentoring facilitates skill transfer while at the same time building credibility between generations; and a third option, when intergenerational communication falters, is to use alternative modes of communication such as visual thinking in order to get people outside their comfort zones.

Business leader testimony:
In late 2007, Toronto-based information technology consulting firm Blueprint Services decided to increase generational diversity within its teams. The goal was to get younger people more involved in decision-making in order to boost creativity and, in particular, facilitate the integration of Web 2.0 tools into customer solutions. The payback on this strategy has been 40% business growth for the past four years.

Read our dossier
Generations C, Y, X, and baby boomers: Strengthening intergenerational collaboration

Business Digest no. June 2012.
A synthesis of several publications, accompanied by an interview with Gabrielle Leclerc, head of recruitment and skill development at Blueprint Services, May 2012.