homepage | Workplace Insights: Improve Multigenerational Workforce Communication

February 7, 2023

Workplace Insights: Improve Multigenerational Workforce Communication

by Pete Dulin

UMKC Business Communication professor Erin Blocher

Multigenerational workforces are here to stay. Different communication styles and concerns between generations can impact discussion of career and role expectations, levels of experience, expertise, and perspectives among coworkers. UMKC Business Communication professor Erin Blocher will discuss how to improve communication between generations at the upcoming conference Bridging Generations in the Workplace.  

Blocher, Christel Gollnick, and Jeff Randolph will deliver in-depth remarks and insights at the conference. Attendees will gain helpful workshop tools and takeaways to lead and work with multigenerational workforces. 

Tuesday, April 11, 2023, 7:30 am-1 pm
Stoney Creek Hotel, 1201 North Woodbine Rd., St. Joseph, MO 64506
$35, includes lunch and breakfast

Many businesses have more than one generation within a workplace, such as Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z. Mastering communication between generations matters for several reasons, particularly for hiring and retaining talented employees. 

Where do you fit within the multigenerational spectrum? 

  • G.I. Generation 1900-1927
  • Silent/Traditionalists 1928-1945
  • Baby Boomers 1946-1964
  • Generation X 1965-1980
  • Millennials/Generation Y 1981-1996
  • Generation Z 1997-2012
  • Generation Alpha 2013-2025

“The collective experiences of a generation during their formative years impacts their world view, their concept of work, and how they see themselves,” said Blocher. “This can have a big impact on how generations communicate and collaborate in the workforce.”  
Companies that seek to retain top talent find that they must start understanding the needs and outlook of each generation, explained Blocher. These generational differences in communication occur at critical junctures like orientation, performance reviews, and or selecting benefits.  
“One size will not fit all in a multigenerational workforce,” said Blocher.  

Generational differences, such as values and perspective, can impact the communication method, voice, and tone of people from different generations.  

“Generations differ on key factors like how they view authority, how collaborative they are, and how they do or do not define themselves through work,” says Blocher. “Some generational traits may even seem paradoxical – and those seeming contradictions reveal the most about the generations.”   

Let’s look at three different generations.

  • Baby Boomers: Tend to question authority from their experiences during the Watergate and Vietnam eras. They also like big ideas because they grew up seeing man land on the moon and living through the Civil Rights movement.   
  • Gen X: Independent because they came of age during the latch-key kid era, but they are also most likely to value status symbols that reflect their achievement to others, like a luxury car.   
  • Millennials: Very comfortable with change because of the rapidly changing technological landscape that has defined their lives, but they often frustrate managers with their discomfort with ambiguity and their teach-to-the-test outlook from the No Child Left Behind era. 

“Understanding the generations’ foundational experiences can help us understand and connect across the generational divide,’ says Blocher. 

 At the conference, Blocher will discuss in greater detail some often overlooked factors between generations. 

“One important distinction to make is between generation and life stage. All generations will go through each of the life stages: they will be young, mid-career, and retirement age,” says Blocher. “But each generation will have a unique collective outlook as they go through those life stages. For example, the way the Baby Boom Generation is approaching their retirement years is much different than the approach of their G.I. Generation parents. Millennials expect something every different from a performance review process than a Gen X employee would.” 

Glean more insights and expertise from Christel Gollnick, Jeff Randolph, and Erin Blocher at the Bridging Generations in the Workplace Conference. Register today.