What would happen if we only talked to people our own age, all the time? What perspectives would we miss both on the job, and outside the office? What kind of mentorship and friendship bonds would we deny ourselves?
And would we reach the maximum potential for success without the input of others both younger and older than ourselves? The answer appears to be no.
A generationally diverse workplace offers different viewpoints, mentorship, and better customer service to a wide-ranging customer base, says Vervoe, a recruitment software company.
“In terms of skills, Generation Z and Millennials have grown up alongside the technology we use daily today, which gives them a knack for innovation and ‘making things work’,” Sam Johns, a senior career counselor at Resume Genius, told the University of Massachusetts Global. “Meanwhile, Generation X and Baby Boomers started working prior to such technology, which can make them more gifted with interpersonal skills that help a company’s teams gel.”
How do people form those age-spanning professional connections? After all, it’s hard, if you’re a Boomer, to find something in common with someone so young they’ve never heard of the Bee Gees. Conversely, it can be challenging for workers who grew up in the digital era and get their news from TikTok to see the value in a print subscription to the Wall Street Journal.
Connections can be forged on a project at work. It can happen with networking groups like Lean In circles. It can happen with employee resource or equality groups, like Genforce at Salesforce, or by joining a subscription club like Cirkel, with curated monthly introductions to older workers in 14 countries across four continents, reports Forbes.
It can also be as easy as sharing a meal together in a company cafeteria. A Cornell study found that firefighters that ate together in the firehouse performed better as a team than firefighters who dined alone. The act of eating together created the type of bonds, intimacy and sharing of perspectives among colleagues that looking at an Excel spreadsheet doesn’t, the study’s author told the Cornell Chronicle.
Outside the office, people are forming groups to enrich their lives and perspectives, with Travel Circles, Spaghetti Project (work-themed dinners), and Generation Women, a literary salon created by author Georgia Clark that operates in New York and Sydney to bring women from their 20s to their 80s together for a night of storytelling before an audience hungry for the wit and wisdom shared.
Clark’s salon was inspired by something close to home. “I had a conversation with my mum about the experience of becoming erased by society, of becoming invisible as she got older, and it made me so mad and sad,” Clark told Alphy.
When people share their challenges at work or after hours with people who have different viewpoints, it can be a path to feeling heard, respected and valued, whether you’re an older worker who feels isolated or irrelevant, or a younger, less experienced worker whose ideas may not get a hearing. When we trust others, we’re more likely to open up and share strategies, solutions and life experiences. We can all benefit from each others’ strengths.
Bottom line: “What happens when you have multigenerational friends is your perspective really widens. Because the things that are keeping you up at night are not the same kinds of things that are keeping someone who is 30 years older or younger up at night. And those kinds of problems are surmountable and are the cycle of life.”
Amanda Nurse is an operations and editorial coordinator at Alphy and Reflect.
Reflect AI by Alphy is a SaaS platform that flags harmful language, including topic, tone, “isms,” confidence, mindset and appropriateness. Our AI language classifier detects risks in emails prior to send, flags conversational missteps (and successes) in video meetings in real-time, and upskills individual communication with targeted and personalized microlearning.