There are now 5 generations in the workforce–can they work together?

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BY RICHARD BAILEY

With people living longer and retiring later just as younger generations are taking their first jobs, for the first time ever, five generations coexist in the workplace.

For businesses, this presents an unprecedented opportunity to drive innovation by taking advantage of the extensive amount of wisdom, knowledge, and fresh perspective in their midst. But it also presents a major challenge: blending disparate groups into cohesive and productive teams.

As the president of HP’s Americas region, I have seen that blending a multigenerational workforce requires of leadership exactly what they are looking to get back from their employees: creativity.

Creativity is vital in today’s workforce given that no two generations are the same. Boomers and the “silent generation” feel they are being phased out by technology. Millennials feel they drew the short straw with the job market. Gen-Xers feel like the sandwich generation, often forgotten or ignored. Gen-Zers want to change the world but feel stymied by outdated practices. What’s more, each generation tends to believe its way of doing things is the best way. When this happens, cultural clashes invariably hamper operational efficiency.

However, I have found that every generation in the workforce has one thing in common: wanting to be heard. Not everyone agrees what that workplace of the future should look like, and that’s okay. Technology can help build a future of work that is beneficial for everyone, and by applying the right types of innovation, organizations can hear all employees and solve many of the issues that arise within a multigenerational workforce.