Generational disconnect is hardly a new problem for businesses, but as the composition of the workforce continues to change, organizations must continue to adapt. The modern workforce is arguably the most varied it has ever been, and the past few years have transformed professionals priorities and perspectives on work and life. This has made bridging the gap between the different generations in the workforce more difficult. These challenges aren’t insurmountable, but leaders must work to foster understanding and a common identity among their workforce to move past these differences and appreciate the various perspectives.
Those who can effectively manage multiple generations in their company stand to see a considerable profit: research shows that building a multigenerational workforce yields a stronger pipeline of talent, increases business resilience, and improves workforce continuity. The key to accomplishing these benefits is understanding how different generations vary from one another and how to foster positive relationships among them. 
Understanding Generational Differences
As of 2023, there are five generations active in the workplace:
●      Silent Generation (1927–1945)
●      Baby Boomers (1946–1964)
●      Generation X (1965–1979)
●      Millennials (1980–1994)
●      Gen Z (1995–2012)
In many ways, the varied nature of our modern workforce is a good thing: when you have multiple perspectives coming together, you're able to make more informed decisions that take into account different viewpoints and potential outcomes. Additionally, a multigenerational workforce brings with it a number of different backgrounds and perspectives, meaning they are better equipped to develop innovative new solutions and tackle complex problems from different angles. However, generations have different sets of values, which can be a source of conflict, if not properly managed.
To avoid a disconnect between generations, leaders must understand the unique characteristics, outlooks, and values of each generational cohort. By understanding these differences, leaders can identify the best work arrangements for their team, address potential areas of conflict, and identify commonalities. For example, both Baby Boomers and Millennials tend to be more team-oriented and collaborative when it comes to projects, making them easier fits, while Gen Xers often favor their independence.
Technology also tends to be a point of distinction between generations: Millennials and Gen Zers are “digital natives,” born in the digital age and thus more likely to gravitate toward digital solutions, when available. By comparison, older workers are “digital immigrants,” so while they might be fully capable of using computers and other modern technologies, they don’t have the innate familiarity that younger generations do. This also impacts how they prefer to work and communicate: Baby Boomers typically prefer face-to-face interactions, while younger generations would rather use email, social media, or video conferencing. This also means that younger generations tend to gravitate more towards remote work than older generations.
Something that’s important to remember here is that these are ultimately generalizations, not hard truths. Every generation is made of individuals, whose specific needs might not neatly match up with the commonly accepted notions about people in their age group. While analyzing generational differences can produce valuable insights for business leaders, you shouldn't fall into the trap of generational stereotyping, which can lead to ageism and mask larger systemic issues. Remember that the generation we are born into is just one part of what makes us who we are.
Bridging the Generation Gap
To ease the tension between older and younger generations, leaders need to create an environment that facilitates cross-generational collaboration. Work environments often seem designed to keep employees from different generations apart, and this friction can leave some employees feeling isolated and disengaged, while others miss out on new perspectives.
Of course, it isn’t enough to just make a cross-generational team: invite everyone to the latest company function and call it a day. For these types of partnerships to work, there needs to be a shared sense of purpose among employees, no matter what generation they belong to. This can be accomplished by holding mixed-generation meetings and using them to find what people value, then tying those values back to an organization’s purpose. Not only can this give employees a renewed sense of interest in their work, but it also shows these differing generational values are more compatible than some might have thought.
This compatibility can also extend to what benefits employees are looking for and what counts as a “dealbreaker.” Though different generations tend to have specific needs and preferences (Baby Boomers tend to want job security and retirement benefits; Millennials like flexibility and a solid work-life balance), there are other areas where there is more consistency. For example, recent data from McKinsey shows that employees of all ages are looking for many of the same things at work: fair compensation, career development opportunities, and caring leaders.
All of this highlights the need to create a work environment centered around the things that matter to everyone, while also addressing more specific generational needs. Recognizing where the alignments are can aid companies in creating wider policies and workplace cultures, satisfying the needs of all demographics. Leaders can implement mentorship programs, education programs, and open dialogue platforms to encourage discussions and find these alignments. We can also provide opportunities for employees at all levels to learn new skills, stay up to date with technology, and pursue different career paths within their organizations.
Perhaps most importantly, leaders must provide the best work options for their employees without alienating a specific age group. The obvious topic here is remote work: younger generations are increasingly demanding the opportunity to work from home, and while there has been some resistance to the idea due to claims that it hurts company culture, in many ways remote workcan be beneficial for creating an environment that caters to the needs of a multigenerational  workforce. After all, older generations have familial obligations and many Baby Boomers are winding down their careers, so having more flexible work arrangements,flexible schedules, and job sharing, means that you can accommodate varied work-life balance needs.
Working Towards Multigenerational Collaboration
Creating a collaborative, cross-generational workplace won't happen overnight and there will inevitably be challenges that need to be addressed. People can be stuck in their ways and stubborn to let go of inaccurate generational stereotypes. Yet, embracing multigenerational collaboration is essential for building a resilient and innovative organization. By identifying how employees from different generations vary in terms of work preferences and general values, leaders can build a workplace environment where everyone feels appreciated.
When you have people from several generations all working together as a team, you get heightened innovation, improved problem solving, and a more harmonious and productive work environment. By identifying common ground across generations, leaders can forge positive relationships while demonstrating the value of having a variety of perspectives. This is the advantage of a multigenerational workforce and it is something that any business can tap into with the right culture and business strategy.