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Cross-generational conflict caused by communication breakdown, says Peer 1 Hosting HRD

The arrival of Generation Z (born 1996 onwards) into the workplace means employers have to manage five generations of workers for the first time.

According to a nationwide report by KPMG this could create cross-generational conflict, with younger workers feeling deprived of career opportunities as their older counterparts work on past the statutory retirement age.

How can HR manage this potential conflict and ensure harmony in a workforce made up of many different ages?

HR magazine asked Helen Ives, HR director of Peer 1 Hosting, for her views:

"The fact that only 45% of employers and 20% of employees openly talk about retirement shows a communication gap around age. However, it's an HR priority to encourage open and positive dialogue and to create initiatives and policies that enable people to maximise their performance and development, whatever their generation.

Many organisations struggle to use the full potential of their teams. A spectrum of ages in the workplace is an advantage: it allows for different views, skills and strengths to work together.

Workers from all generations can learn from each other, leveraging their own experiences and points of view to improve the way we work and allow us to reach an even more diverse customer base.

As a manager, it's important to understand and acknowledge these differences to avoid misunderstandings and help your team work effectively. Although some employees may not portray all of their generation's characteristics, understanding the different generational styles will help with building teams, increasing productivity and embracing change.

Each generation has its own communication style, as well as distinct values and feedback needs. Conflicts between baby boomers and generations X, Y and Z often occur when communication and engagement falter. HR must bridge those gaps - both real and imagined - through communication, culture and engagement.

Everyone needs recognition, access to resources to do their job and feedback from their leader. It's important to learn how to flex your communication style to create an environment where people can play to their strengths. Emphasise commonalities and shared goals at an organisational level, while acknowledging each person's valued and unique contribution."