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Generations in the Workplace

Posted by Ilena Di Toro | Posted on January 31, 2017

There is a lot of discussion in the business world about the multi-generational workforce. Baby Boomers, Generation Xers and Millennials are all, more often than not, working in the same office. So if you work in a chain or a hospital, as many in eye care do, all three generations are likely represented in your office. With such a range in ages and mindsets, how does a boss keep peace? These things can help:

Focus on commonalities
Don’t be so quick to label Baby Boomers as slow to pick up technology, Generation Xers as cynical slackers, and Millennials as coddled and forever looking for a pat on the back. Believe it or not, there are some cynical Boomers, coddled Xers, and Millennials who can’t successfully use a landline telephone or a copy machine. Focus on what they have in common, such as helping patients achieve good health and good vision. Remind them that what they do, ranging from greeting patients to helping patients pick out frames and everything in between, will help to meet the common goal.

Mentoring Old to Young, Young to Old and Within Cohort
Say “mentoring” and immediately one thinks of an older employee showing a new hire “the ropes.” That’s one way to think of mentoring. Another way is to have a younger employee help an older one with technology. It can even mean two employees are close in age and one helps the other with a software program. The people who work for you are smart (after all, they work for you), so let them teach each other. It takes a load off of your hands and improves the morale around the office.

Give Employees a Voice
Your employees are your greatest resource. They are the ones in the trenches day and day out dealing with patients, sales reps, and paperwork. Let your employees talk about office procedures, present ideas for improvement, or air grievances. Their ideas can help your practice grow. Don’t worry, the ideas won’t necessarily revolve around buying new technology. It could be as simple as having a greater presence on social media or it could be instituting comp time to help with work/life balance.

Waxing poetic about the good ol’ days and saying things like “When I started out we didn’t have smartphones and we got along just fine,” is a waste of time. After all, there was a time when most businesses didn’t have computers or multi-line phones. Would you get rid of them because they weren’t around in the 1970’s and businesses back then got along fine without them? No, you wouldn’t. Both young and old bring skill sets and experiences that can be beneficial to the business. Both employees and patients benefit when the attitude of “us versus them” yields to “we’re all on the same team.” Utilizing the knowledge of multiple generations will lead to better results.


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