How to manage a multi-generational team

6 min | Jessica Smith | Article | Company management People and culture

Colleagues smiling and posing for a photo

In an increasingly diverse world of work, multigenerational teams have become a common reality in organizations.

With the presence of up to five different generations in the same work environment, from Baby Boomers to Generation Z, the challenge is to manage this diversity effectively.


What is a multi-generational team?

A multigenerational team is made up of members of different age groups who bring a variety of experiences, skills, work styles and perspectives. This diversity can be a great asset to companies, fostering innovation and creativity. However, it can also present challenges in communication, collaboration, and conflict management.

Also you may like: Promoting inclusive leadership with diversity | Hays Canada


Differences between Generations and the Impact on Work Climate

Generational differences can affect the workplace in a variety of ways, from communication styles to professional expectations and approaches to decision making. It is essential that leaders recognize and respect these differences to create a harmonious and productive work environment.

Generations currently in the workforce include:

  • Baby Boomers: Born between 1946 and 1964, they are ambitious and career-focused.
  • Generation X: Born between 1965 and 1980, they value work-life balance and are independent.
  • Millennials and Generation Z: Born between 1981 and 1996, and since 1997 respectively, they are tech-savvy, value flexibility and seek purpose at work.
  • Generation Z are true digital natives, value diversity and inclusion, and care about global issues.


Differences between generations: 

Let's explore some of these differences and their impact on the workplace in more detail:


  • Baby Boomers: tend to prefer face-to-face or telephone communication. They may value formality in written communication.
  • Generation X: They are comfortable with email and phone calls, but also adapt to new communication technologies.
  • Millennials and Generation Z: Prefer digital communication, such as instant messaging and social networks. They value speed and convenience.

Relationship to Work

  • Baby Boomers: focused on career and professional success. They value hard work and commitment.
  • Generation X: They seek balance between work and personal life. They are independent and prefer autonomy at work.
  • Millennials and Generation Z: They seek purpose and meaning at work. They value flexibility and growth opportunities. Generation Z is concerned about job stability and security. They value diversity and inclusion.

Leadership Expectations

  • Baby Boomers: Can expect a more authoritarian and hierarchical leadership style.
  • Generation X: Prefer leaders who offer autonomy and are facilitators.
  • Millennials: Expect leaders who provide guidance and constant feedback.
  • Generation Z: Seeks leaders who are transparent, ethical and promote diversity.

Use of technology

  • Baby Boomers: May be less familiar with digital technologies and prefer traditional methods.
  • Generation X: Adaptable to new technologies, but are not digital natives.
  • Millennials and Generation Z: Digital natives, comfortable with a wide range of technologies and expect them to be integrated into the workplace.

Learn more about the Future of work here: The Future of Work report: Building your Workforce Strategy in 2024 | Hays Canada 

These generational differences can lead to misunderstandings, conflicts, and challenges in collaboration. For example, a preference for different communication styles can result in breakdowns in the transmission of information. Likewise, different leadership expectations can affect the dynamic between managers and employees.

However, these differences also offer opportunities. Diversity of perspectives and skills can enrich decision making and drive innovation. In addition, knowledge sharing across generations can promote professional and personal development for all involved.

To maximize the benefits of a multigenerational team, it is critical that leaders recognize and value these differences, fostering an inclusive and respectful work environment.

Tips for leaders

Managing a multigenerational team requires a flexible and inclusive approach. Here are some additional tips for leaders looking to foster a harmonious and productive work environment within a diverse team:

  • Know the Generations: Take the time to understand the characteristics, values and preferences of each generation on your team. This will help you tailor your leadership approach to meet everyone's needs.
  • Promote open communication: Encourage the expression of ideas and opinions from all team members, regardless of age.
  • Provide development opportunities: create a professional development plan that meets the needs and aspirations of each generation.
  • Adapt to work styles: recognize and adapt to different work styles and preferences.
  • Encourage Mutual Respect: Establish a culture of mutual respect, where each generation values the contributions and experiences of the others.
  • Promote Intergenerational Collaboration: Encourage projects and activities that bring members of different generations together to promote mutual learning and knowledge sharing.
  • Use technology to the benefit of your team: take advantage of technological tools to facilitate communication and collaboration between generations.


Let’s talk about open communication, and build your team

Managing a multigenerational team can be challenging, but also extremely rewarding. The key to success is promoting open communication. 

Our Hays professionals are ready to support you and your company today and tomorrow. Contact our experts today.

About this author

Jessica Smith, Senior Vice President, People & Culture, Hays Americas

An accomplished HR executive with a proven track record in overseeing and managing HR operations and talent strategy, Jessica Smith is renowned for her ability to drive efficiencies and bolster employee engagement and satisfaction. With a robust background in developing and implementing a strong, flexible HR infrastructure, Jessica serves as a trusted advisor and business partner to the Executive Leadership Team.

As the SVP for People & Culture at Hays Americas, Jessica continues to set the standard for excellence in human resources, championing innovative strategies that align with the company’s dynamic growth and evolving needs.

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