Baby boomers, Millennials, Generations X and Z—all these generations of people are combined in a growing workplace. As society becomes more reliant on digital mediums to communicate and function, a technological divide between a multigenerational culture may affect how businesses approach tasks.
A focus on maintaining healthier lifestyle has risen from the younger generations, resulting in more diversity among employees. With age and cultural differences comes different preferences in technology use as well. Businesses should take into account these variances to ensure that the company functions in a solid, cohesive manner.
- Baby Boomers
This generation as a whole often struggles with using technology. Learning new forms can be frustrating too. However, they have generally adapted well to the work-from-home lifestyle the world developed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Generation X
Having more of a preference for home-based, digital work, Generation X typically like being productive. On the other hand, their preference for functioning technology puts them at a disadvantage when a company utilizes a low-quality system, for example.
They are more focused on digital interactions and gravitate to it versus physical situations. Collaboration-style jobs have a more desired place with this generation compared to individual jobs. Generally, they are not as productive as Generation X and prefer to not work from home.
- Generation Z
Born into a world already centered around technology, this generation has become reliant on technological advances. They are also more tech-savvy than the other generations and like to participate in various different tasks in the workplace. A concern for data privacy has developed among Generation Z as well.
Age Isn’t the Only Factor
In a multigenerational workforce, age is just one of many factors that can affect what level of technology use employees prefer. Some other factors include:
- Role in the company
- How much seniority they hold
- Where the job is located (and if it’s remote or in-person)
- Individual and collective economic status
- How much education they have received
- What financial class they fall into
There have been shifts between the generations in terms of experiences with technology—both before and during the current technological era—and adaptability to those experiences. For example, insecurity or low self-esteem and a need to participate in virtual conferences have forced people to go beyond their comfort zones. However, this kind of experience could lead to a growing preference for them moving into the future.
Advice for Approaching Technology in a Multigenerational Workplace
Be informed about typical technological preferences between generations but don’t presume every employee fits into their designated generation. Questioning employees about their preferences of handling technology, as well as self-assessing how different experiences and skill levels can affect the company, is the next step. Bring options to the table for how employees can use technology to complete their tasks individually or together. Additionally, offering training to employees who might not be as experienced with a certain form of technology is beneficial as well. Lastly, be considerate and open to varying preferences toward technology in the workplace.