Communication Skills Biggest Difference Between Generations in Workforce

In today’s multigenerational workforce, most executives agree that each age demographic exhibits its own styles and approaches.

CFOs in a Robert Half Management Resources survey said they see the greatest generational differences in employees’ communication skills (30%), ability to adapt to change (26%) and technical abilities (23%).

Fourteen percent see difference in cross-departmental collaboration, and only 7% of executives noted there are no differences.

Research conducted for “Get Ready for Generation Z” by Robert Half and Enactus highlights key differences in these areas among Baby Boomers (born 1946 to 1964), Generation X (1965 to 1977), Generation Y (1978 to 1989) and Generation Z (1990 to 1999). It found Baby Boomers tend to be more reserved, while Gen Xers favor a control-and-command style of communication Conversely, Gen Yers prefer a more collaborative approach to communication, and Gen Zers prize in-person interactions.

As for change management, Gens X and Y tend to see change as a vehicle for new opportunities, while Gen Z is accustomed to change and expects it in the workplace.

When it comes to building their abilities, employer-backed training is expected by all workers. Baby Boomers and Gen Xers most value traditional instructor-led courses or self-learning tools; Millennials, which include Generations Y and Z, prefer collaborative and technology-centric options.

“Each generation brings unique characteristics to the workforce, which should be embraced,” says Tim Hird, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources. “Too often, managers see these differences as negatives, but building a team with diverse perspectives, insights and strengths can only be a positive, leading to improved products and service levels.”