Kathleen Seah, Director, Human Capital, PhillipCapital

Kathleen Seah (KS): In today’s working environment, there is a wide variety of individuals of various ages, backgrounds, and qualifications, all collaborating in the same space. However, managing a multigenerational workforce presents various challenges that require different approaches.

    • Different priorities: Baby boomers and Gen X prioritize job security, millennials focus on career advancement, and Gen Zs tend to value work-life balance and financial stability. As each generation come with their distinct values and perspectives, it can be difficult to satisfy the requirements of every age group.

    • Communication styles: The methods of communication preferred by different generations in the workplace can vary widely. While Baby boomers prefer face-to-face interactions, millennials and Gen Zers lean towards digital communication methods like emails or text messages.

      It has also been found that 44% of Singapore employees and job seekers found it challenging to communicate across age groups due to differing preferred communication tools and styles.

    • Work-life balance expectations: Generational differences exist in expectations around work-life balance, with Gen Z seeking stability, millennials valuing flexibility, and baby boomers emphasizing purpose and loyalty.

    • Technology adoption and digital divide: The rapid pace of technological advancements can create a digital divide between generations. Younger employees who grew up with technology may adapt more quickly to new tools, while older employees might find it challenging to keep up, potentially affecting collaboration and productivity.

However, there are benefits to having a multigenerational workplace, such as:

    • Knowledge sharing and skill transfer: Older employees can share valuable insights and experiences with younger colleagues, while younger employees bring new technologies and innovative ideas, allowing members to leverage each other’s strengths for complementation.

    • Mentorship opportunities: The presence of different generations facilitates natural mentorship relationships, aiding in the onboarding process and skill development. This mentorship can be bi-directional, not just older to younger. In fact, reverse mentoring ensures that we are able to learn from one another, regardless of age.

    • Succession planning: A diverse age range enables organizations to identify and groom potential successors across various levels ensuring a smooth transition during leadership changes.

KS: Today’s multigenerational workforce offers significant benefits to employers in terms of a range of experience and creative problem-solving skills. Some ways to encourage open communication and collaboration in a multigenerational workforce include:

  • Incorporating generational differences into workplace training to accommodate different learning styles.

    While the majority of our employees (Gen X, millennials and Gen Z) are used to taking up training on digital platforms, e-learning and online workshops, the older employees usually prefer more structured face-to-face training. Hence, for effective knowledge transfer to take place for older employees taking on new tasks, we will have an experienced staff going through the process step by step together with the older employee.

  • Communicating important information to employees using a variety of digital and in-person channels.

    Besides communicating important information to employees through internal circulars and the intranet, it is also our practice to hold onsite team meetings and Townhalls to engage employees more holistically.

  • Offering a range of benefits options to meet the needs of employees of all ages.

    Flexible work arrangements such as telecommuting, flexi-hours, and part-time work arrangements are utilized by employees across different generations.