Intergenerational Diversity: Challenges and Conflicts in the Workplace

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Intergenerational Diversity Challenges and Conflicts in the Workplace Today's American workforce is unique. Never before has there been a workplace so diverse in so many ways: Race, gender, ethnicity, and generational differences exist to a greater extent than ever before. As the U.S. Department of Labor Bureau of Labor Statistics (2004) study reported, large corporations could lose between two and four percent bottom line productivity due to generational differences and miscommunication in the workplace. The same study also asserts that billions of dollars are lost each year because corporate leadership has not yet recognized, nor accounted for, the impact of significantly different generational diversity values, attitudes, and…show more content…
They are also more adaptable to the rapid pace at which technology is progressing and changing. This is a result of both formal education and informal cultural and social experiences. For example, the younger generations grew up playing video games and using computers and the internet at home and school. Such experience and knowledge can in turn lead to salary expectations and differences between workplace generations. This is readily seen in the IT industry. Gomolski notes that "it's not uncommon to see relatively inexperienced IT professional commanding large salary premiums because they have ‘hot' skills, often earning more than individuals with more years of experience" (2001). As Clausing (2003) notes, "Nexters exceed all other generations in their knowledge of computers and technology. Technology is assimilation for them, whereas for everyone else it is an accommodation" (p. 374). Different communications styles and expectations between different generations can also cause conflict in today's generationally diverse workplace and can create a motivational challenge for managers. According to Staff Leader (2004), older generations believe in a positive and direct approach, and they prefer direct orders and a process-oriented approach to communications and problem solving, while younger generations feel they are not being heard, and want to be listened to more. (p. 2-3) Intergenerational Diversity and Synergy Despite the
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