Tips for Communicating Across Generations in the Workplace

How to Create a Collaborative and Effective Working Environment with Colleagues of All Ages

April 03, 2019
Communicating across generations in the workplace

1. Match the media to the recipient.

  • Generally the older the recipient(s), the more formal the communication. Written memos vs. texts and social media wall posts for Millennials.
  • Schedule phone calls. Also ask whether this is an okay time to talk when you connect.

2. Match the media and the message.

  • Text for simple items such as setting up a meeting.
  • Use email for more complicated messages.
  • Do not write emails as though they are text messages. Emails should be professional and texts can be more informal.

3. Use small talk to facilitate relationships.

  • Baby Boomers prefer to talk about work.
  • Gen Xers talk either social life or work.
  • Millennials will choose social life.
  • Try to keep in mind everyone’s preferences when starting conversations.

4. Use feedback wisely.

  • Do not overdo feedback with Baby Boomers and be sure to show respect for their experience.
  • Gen Xers are happy to be challenged and like direct communication.
  • Millennials want lots of feedback, but in asking for it, they should consider what is feasible and productive.

5. Be kind.

  • A thank you and a well-timed smile makes every generation more open to communication.

The workplace of the future is likely to include five generations, as half of the babies born today are expected to live to be 100.  Practicing better communication across generations is going to be even more important.