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How Generational Gaps are Impacting the Future of Traditional Workplace Culture

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Embracing Adaptability in the Post-Pandemic Work Environment

How Generational Gaps are Impacting the Future of Traditional Workplace Culture

Workplace culture has shifted, most notably on the heels of the recent pandemic. With many organizations moving to a hybrid or fully remote business model, some unexpected challenges have surfaced. The reimagining of workplace culture and how everyone fits into the puzzle has more pieces than expected.

In this article,  Luke Doubler, Founder of Recruiter Central, shares insight into how generational gaps continue to impact workplace culture and how companies can adjust to the new normal.

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A little over three years ago, going into an office every day was the norm for many. It was expected. Hybrid working had been around for decades, but it wasn’t the standard. Then Covid hit, and suddenly everyone was scrambling to keep their companies afloat when no one could come into the office.

This was a hard place for many employers because their infrastructure was not set up for remote operations. Under the pressure of a new normal, the internal workings of many companies began rattling, forcing businesses to look under the hood to find the source of the noisy disruption.

Square Pegs and Round Holes

When the world locked down, and businesses tried to regain their footing, Gen Z graduates looked forward to their first corporate job, held their breath, and waited for the Covid storm to pass. Those fortunate enough to start in a remote capacity could not go into an office and “learn the ropes” like their Pre-Covid coworkers—those who entered through the glass doors of an established culture, making it easier to acclimate to their new surroundings.

For many Gen Zers who’d never physically been in a professional work environment, their first introduction to workplace culture was when they fired up their laptop in the corner of their bedroom and pushed play on the company’s welcome video. As the first generation of digital natives, the pandemic offered them a seamless transition into an online space with which they were familiar.

According to Insider Intelligence,

Gen Z is the first generation to have 24/7 access to the internet, connected devices, and social media since birth. As a result, they see the physical and digital worlds as a seamless continuum of experiences that blend offline and online information for entertainment, commerce, and communication.

In many ways, working remotely eased some pressures associated with a new job, like meeting new people and getting used to a new work environment. In other ways, it left Gen Zers disadvantaged because of their limited understanding of the current corporate culture and expectations.

But this isn’t just about the first wave of employees born between 1995 and 2010 entering the workforce. These growing pains have been stretching companies for some time, but the pressure cooker of Covid-19 forced employers to face some uncomfortable realities. Their outdated structures were shifting on the heels of technology and at risk of collapsing.

Whether a Baby Boomer or somewhere between Gen X-Z, Covid stirred the melting pot of tech-savvy to tech-averse employees, and all kinds of things floated to the top.

Adjusting the Model

The workplace culture gap is most clear in companies where principal leadership comprises Baby Boomers (born between 1946-1964 ) and Generation Xers (born between 1965-1980). As 20-somethings begin to take up more space in the workforce, bridging the gap between generational expectations is critical.

Old-school business includes a system of hierarchy where employees are expected to “pay their dues” before advancing into coveted managerial positions which could be years away. New school thoughts led by Millennials and Gen Zers focus on valuing the now and having experiences that move them from moment to moment. There are always exceptions to the rule, but these generalizations continue to play out in my day-to-day interactions with applicants and employers.

Workplace culture matters. In the absence of a healthy one, employees suffer.  Erin Hutchinson, Global Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Merkle, defines the importance of culture this way:

The role of culture in strengthening employee connections has grown even more important while simultaneously becoming more difficult to define and to champion at an enterprise level. Historically, the most prominent component of culture was the personal — aka “in-person” — bonding among co-workers. Sometimes that meant large, meaningful moments — things like team outings, all-hands staff meetings, holiday parties and retirement ceremonies.

The Pre-Covid norm is no longer normal. In order for the post-pandemic workplace to thrive, employers need a multigenerational perspective. By considering ways to bridge the generational gaps that the pandemic exacerbated companies can rebuild their workplace cultures to create balance on all sides of this unique conversation.

Luke Doubler is an innovator in talent sourcing. He has trained 1000s of corporate and agency recruiters to be the best at what they do: source talent to achieve a purpose. His listen-first, transformational leadership style and commitment to peer development are unique in the recruiting industry. RecruiterCentral is a search firm specializing in the placement of all corporate and hourly positions. Learn more about their services on their website.

Fazy is a contributor at Kivo Daily and many more notable publications.

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