5 Super Hacks for Developing Happy & Productive Relationships at Work
Is that you? Does your work sometimes make you ill? Do you occasionally find it so stressful that you want to grab a duvet day or even quit? You’re not alone. According to Deloitte, we’re bombarded at work with so much information and so many demands on our time, that we can all feel stressed out at times. Of course, mental and physical health in a job is a personal thing – and Deloitte’s research shows that we all tend to fluctuate between “thriving and struggling”. But, according to their report “Mental Health and employers: the case for investment”, struggling employees costs UK employers between £33bn and £42 bn each year.
Stress at work may not necessarily be caused by the work; it can be personal issues which stray into the job. And an additional stress-factor, which is rarely discussed, is working with different generations.
Older and younger workers are regularly thrown together – often in an uneasy relationship – and expected to deliver a high level of performance and productivity. They have to get on, to get on. But there’s a problem with that. For Gen Z – who are just entering the workplace now – aged 16 to 19 years old – their co-workers look and sound more like mum and dad, or even grannie and grandpa. For Baby Boomers – aged between 52 and 70, these youngsters seem like baby-faced, impossibly young children.
How will they get on? How will they work effectively? How will they even find a way to communicate – when older workers are used to face-to-face, telephone and written comms, and our youngest workers live their lives on their smartphones, with abbreviated texting and emojis? Well, it’s much easier than you think. Here are 5 super hacks for improving communications and working relationships between different generations.
Add in new tools
Don’t see every older worker as someone who is past their sell-by date, and can’t accept or use new technology. Instead, keep current communication tools, (email, telephone and face-to-face), and add in new tools such as WhatsApp. You’ll find that Boomers and Generation X, (aged between 36 and 51), will often learn how to use these tools and simply add them into their comms toolkit.
Rule of thumb: Add in new stuff, and let the old stuff continue, until/unless is dies out naturally.
Encourage mentoring and reverse mentoring
Older workers can mentor younger employees about how to do a job, how to win a deal, or how to work with a difficult customer. But younger workers can mentor effectively too; they can teach older workers about new technologies, new ways of working and new, technical hacks. Younger people are usually tech-savvy and delighted to be given the opportunity to show off their expertise. And older workers can learn new ways of working, if someone takes the time to show them how and why that’s a good idea.
Rule of thumb: Framed within a more formalised mentoring process across a company, this two-way training provides benefits for all generations. Everyone learns from everyone else.
Share what good looks like
Too many organisations short-change their employee base with brief, almost non-existent induction. But all generations need to know what good looks like in a role. And our youngest workers have often been told exactly how to do something (such as how to pass an exam, or complete an assignment during school, college or university). Throwing them into the workplace and assuming they will copy someone else, or complete a few online learning modules, does not guarantee they will be good to go. Instead, position a range of induction sessions, which include younger workers who have been in the business for a year or less, and who can answer questions about how things work around here, or why we do what we do. And include older workers too, in explaining to all generations about the vision, culture and objectives of the organisation – such as how and why we make money, what value every role can bring to our customers and to each other, and how what we do really matters.
Rule of thumb: Include all generations in induction and training; it saves money, it brings each generation closer to the others, and people understand what to do and why it’s worth doing.
Set up projects
Gen Z and Millennials love projects. They’ve been doing them all their lives, in school, at Uni, or in any form of post-school learning. Projects have a life-span and a beginning, middle and end. That brings a sense of rapid achievement and closure, which our youngest workers love, (“See, I’ve made progress, here is what I’ve done”), and older employees can be comfortable with too. And all generations like a sense of completion. So these in-work projects provide a simple, effective way to get things done, whilst providing interest, shape and structure to a task.
Rule of thumb: Set up a project for as many things as you can think of. If you’re not sure, ask me – and I’ll give you all the projects you could have ever dreamed of!
Set up dream teams
Instead of keeping older and younger workers separate, in cohorts or teams, mix them up from day 1. Your youngest, newest sales person could be teamed up with your older, highest earner. Contrary to popular belief, Gen Z and Millennials don’t hate older people (after all, many of them have beloved family members who are the same age as their bosses at work!). But they do feel older people don’t get them, don’t like them and don’t accept them.
Rule of thumb: encourage inter-generational teams and working, and ask both to share their questions, findings and experience – so everyone learns
Stress is a normal, natural occurrence in the workplace. Light stress is good; it’s like going to the gym and lifting that heavy weight for one more rep, which will build muscle. Doing work that’s stretching and challenging is the same – it builds intellectual and thinking capabilities. But too much stress is debilitating and distressing.
So use these hacks to reduce one potential area of stress, and get your different generations working together in harmony and understanding.
What’s not to like?
About the author
Henry Rose Lee is an Award-Winning Global Speaker, Author, Consultant, Executive Coach, Founder & CEO, entrepreneur, creative, script-writer, and voice-over artist; lover of people, champagne, dancing, flying first-class.
A familiar voice and face for over 14 years in the millennial leadership arena; and inspiring audiences worldwide speaking through her experiences of Prosopagnosia – being face blind.
Her dynamic, insightful and personal keynote speech attracts corporate audiences and has been delivered to thousands…
Intensely human, practical, empathic and hard-hitting Henry Rose has founded and developed the vehicle for supporting and developing ambitious, smart, corporate professionals and leaders headed for the top.
A career visionary, Henry Rose shows her clients how to hit the ground running and ignite their remarkable talents to grab opportunities for an outstanding career.