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How to lead a multigenerational workforce effectively

Stefania Katafygioti by Stefania Katafygioti

How to lead a multigenerational workforce effectively

Managing & leading a multigenerational workforce – challenges, solutions and advantages


Today, and for the first time in modern history, there are five generations in the workforce. And, with demographic trends such as increasing life-spans and retirement ages, such generational diversity in the workplace is here to stay.


Reading time: 3 minutes


Leaders (whether executives or managers) of multigenerational workforces must be able to engage all generations. Whilst this is no easy feat to achieve, it is critical to both employee satisfaction and to the organisation’s overall success. This is because diverse and inclusive workplaces are better able to retain talent, have greater readiness to innovate and they also achieve higher revenue growth.

For example, the workforce in the US is made up of approximately the following generational split:

  • 2.0% Traditionalists (born before 1945)
  • 18.6% Baby boomers (1946-64)
  • 34.7% Generation X (1965-80)
  • 38.6% Millennials (1981-95)
  • 6.1% Generation Z (1996-2012)

The challenges of leading a multigenerational workforce

Different needs and priorities

In a multigenerational workforce, employees can span a full range of life stages. Some may be raising young kids, some buying their first home, and others making retirement plans. Employees at different life stages will likely have different priorities and needs that must be addressed.

Harmful stereotypes and assumptions

Though there is some personality psychology to each generation (due to the influence of things like, e.g.,  world events, economic conditions and the cultural norms of each era), people must be viewed and treated as individuals. However, when we don’t know, don’t understand or can’t relate to someone, we might use harmful stereotypes or make false assumptions. This can negatively impact productivity and performance.

Miscommunication – or a gap between intent and impact

Language evolves, and how we communicate has changed dramatically. It’s easy for people with different backgrounds or from different age groups to interpret a message differently. This can lead to miscommunication and misunderstanding between people.

‘Us vs. them’ attitudes and power dynamics

Significant age gaps can lead to unhelpful power dynamics. Those from younger generations may be hesitant to ask older colleagues questions, or feel they need to prove themselves. Those from older generations may feel they need to coddle younger colleagues or might view them as inexperienced.


How can business leaders overcome these challenges?

Demonstrate and promote inclusivity

When considering how to improve organisational inclusivity, leaders must focus both on formal processes and policies, and also on their own behaviour. When leaders display the right behaviours, they can achieve up to a 70% increase in the proportion of employees who feel highly included (and therefore respected, valued and a sense of belonging).

Build relatedness with and between others

The ability to establish meaningful relationships with, and between, team members, despite any differences, is a key skill for those leading multi-generational workforces to have. Numerous studies have shown that relatedness between colleagues can lead to increased motivation, well-being and performance.

Support high levels of psychological safety

Psychological safety refers to the belief that it is okay to speak-up with ideas, questions, concerns or mistakes, and that it is okay to take interpersonal risk. It is incredibly important in a multigenerational team, as it can help to mitigate ‘us vs. them’ attitudes or power dynamics.

Understand communication needs and flex accordingly

How we communicate has changed over the years, resulting in different generational norms and preferences. For example, a Baby Boomer may prefer more formal, in-person conversations and phone calls, but someone from Generation Z may favour more informal conversations via a messaging platform. Layered on to this, people have their own individual communication preferences. To communicate effectively, leaders will need to know how to adapt their style and approach to meet different communication preferences.

Creating a sense of shared purpose

When individuals in a team are united through a shared sense of purpose, they will feel more motivated to work together collaboratively and contribute to the team’s success. To do so, leaders must first understand what matters most to their team members. Leaders can then begin connecting their team members to organisational and/or team values, mission and vision.


Advantages of a Multigenerational Workforce

Here’s why a multigenerational workforce is an asset to any organisation:

Diverse perspectives

With team members ranging from Traditionalists to Gen Z, imagine the wide array of perspectives that your organisation will benefit from. This diversity in thought and experience fosters creativity and innovation. As highlighted by a report from Deloitte, organisations with inclusive cultures are six times more likely to be innovative and agile. The blend of historical knowledge with fresh, innovative ideas enables companies to approach problems from multiple angles, leading to more effective and creative solutions.

Enhanced decision-making

A multigenerational workforce contributes to a richer decision-making process. The varying levels of experience and expertise across generations can significantly improve the quality of decisions made within an organization. Research from Cloverpop indicates that inclusive teams make better business decisions up to 87% of the time, and decisions made and executed by diverse teams deliver 60% better results.

Learning and development opportunities

The intergenerational exchange of knowledge and skills is a unique advantage. Older employees can share their wealth of experience and industry insights, while younger employees can offer fresh perspectives and familiarity with new technologies and trends. This symbiotic learning environment not only enhances individual employee skills but also elevates the collective knowledge base of the organisation, promoting a culture of continuous learning and adaptability.

Greater flexibility and adaptability

Organisations with a multigenerational workforce are better positioned to adapt to market changes and evolving customer needs. The diverse age groups within the workforce can mirror the organisation’s diverse customer base, offering insights into customer preferences across different demographics. This adaptability is crucial for staying competitive in today’s fast-paced business environment.

Increased employee engagement and retention

A multigenerational workforce that feels valued and included is more likely to be engaged and committed to the organisation’s success. By fostering an inclusive culture that respects and leverages the strengths of each generation, organisations can enhance employee satisfaction and loyalty, reducing turnover rates. 



In conclusion, the advantages of a multigenerational workforce are manifold, offering organisations a competitive edge through increased innovation, better decision-making, continuous learning, and enhanced adaptability. By recognising and leveraging these strengths, leaders can harness the full potential of their diverse teams, driving organisational success in an ever-changing business landscape.


As always, we’re here to help. And if this is something you’re interested in, we’d love to chat.



Stefania Katafygioti

Senior Consultant


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