Bridging the Generation Gap at Work

Generational differences in the workplace can lead to conflict, but everyone has something positive to contribute. Learn how to manage the generation gap.

If you think you’re noticing more conflict at work lately, you’re likely right. With up to four generations in the workplace-and each bringing its unique values and expectations-there’s bound to be conflict, says Lynne Lancaster, co-author of The M-Factor: How the Millennial Generation is Rocking the Workplace.

The way that we’re conditioned during our formative years is so powerful, it creates a “generational personality,” says Lancaster. For instance, older employees often “live to work,” while younger ones view work as a means by which they can accomplish other things, says Candace Laing, a human-resources professional in Saskatoon.

Older generations often perceive younger ones as disloyal job-hoppers, adds Laing. “But how can we blame them, when they’ve seen their parents downsized after years of service to a company?” she asks.

Still, the younger generations tend to be great team players, says Lancaster. They were raised in a collaborative environment in which they worked on group projects at school and had input into family decisions at home.

With the right attitude, it’s possible to resolve intergenerational conflicts at work. “Remember,” says Lancaster, “nobody’s right or wrong; they’re just different. Everyone has something to contribute.”

Tips: Solving Inter-generational Conflicts

  • Regularly set aside time for open communication about issues that crop up.
  • Keep a sense of humour when faced with different working styles.
  • Coach younger employees on how to more effectively give and receive feedback.

To learn more about generational differences, go to

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