Widening Multigenerational Workforce Also Means Corporate Housing Needs to Customize Accommodations

If there’s one thing human resource specialists and corporate housing providers like California Corporate Housing have observed, it’s this: the prevalence of three to four generations of talents with unique skills and diverse backgrounds working shoulder-to-shoulder.

This phenomenon goes beyond the avuncular executive mentoring a newbie young enough to be his grandson. Instead, as Forbes puts it, employees who are equal in rank and position are compelled to collaborate, and their age range stretches from 18 years old to 80. For corporate housing providers, this new reality means they need to adjust to the different generations’ own definition of quality housing accommodation.

This multigenerational workforce is classified according to their eras, by their birth years: the Baby Boomers were the sons and daughters who grew up amidst a flourishing economy after World War II (1948-1963); the Gen-Xers were weaned on MTV, the first Microsoft computers, and the beginnings of a globalized economy (1964-1978); and the millennials, raised in a culture epitomized by high-speed internet, fast-changing technology, and a very flexible workplace (1979-1991).

The gap between Gen-Xers and millennials is not that distant, and one can easily find workplaces where the former report to the latter. But baby boomers have been holding off against retirement and are staying longer in the workforce.

According to CBS News, many of these silver-haired talents are still reeling from the economic shocks of the past decade. They have rightfully counted that they have not saved enough for a comfortable retirement, and are seeking for ways to prolong their employment or find an alternative source of income. Again, Gen-Xers might be able to relate to the baby boomers’ preference for a more structured work process, but millennials might not understand some seniors’ aversion to online work.

Aging and how one relates to more elderly colleagues require sensitivity, especially among foreign nationals or assignees whose values toward their parents and extended clan can make them more accommodating to them than their more outspoken, egalitarian American counterparts. Still, having three generations of talents with different mindsets, attitudes toward work, and contrasting reward systems can be a challenge in itself. This is not an issue in corporate housing yet but someday it could be as people view smart home technology in housing accommodations differently.

For the much older generation who prefers to do things with his own hands, smart home accommodation may not be such a big deal, if not perceived largely as a nuisance. Corporate housing providers will need to cater to their taste and needs, because in the workplace, they would not be able to make self-serving demands. They would need to work together even if they have different values.

The bottleneck would be in the workplace.

Baby boomers will always value hard work and stability, expect tangible rewards, and can get by without any public accolade. Gen-Xers, on the other hand, look for work-life balance, sees employment as a means to living the good life, and prefers output-based work instead of a rigid schedule. Millennials will prioritize a unique experience over a concrete asset (e.g. travel over a fixed bonus), eschew hierarchy, and regard mobile workplace as the rule, not the exception.

If you were to give a training workshop on cross-cultural immersion to a group of workers composed of all these demographics, the baby boomers would prefer to learn in a traditional classroom where they have personal time with an instructor. The Gen-Xers might ask to download the materials first before they spend a couple of hours with the said instructor. Meanwhile, the millennials just might prefer to have the whole workshop done as a webinar on Skype.

To help make this multi-generational workforce more cohesive and ultimately more productive, try the following tips in building them up to become a harmonious team:

Conduct classes and open dialogue on the age differences of your members — and how each one of them can bridge that gap

As advised by The Wall Street Journal, the objective of these meetings is to develop a way by which all the members can appreciate the skills they can bring to the table. For example, Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers can learn how to be social media-savvy from the millennials, while the millennials can study how to do offline negotiations with VIPs from the former who are more seasoned in dealing with VIPs.

Place the focus of the group on the goals, not on their interpersonal differences

It would be easy to get lost in the chatter once the Baby Boomers start winking out of the chat rooms. Global mobility specialists should navigate these rough waters and remind their talents that at the end of the day, the company expects them to deliver — as individuals and as a team. As per The Huffington Post, expectations should be clear, and excuses not given a berth. Emphasis on a meritocratic culture will encourage or at least compel these multigenerational talents to work with each other.

Choose your battles: prioritize the results, not the procedure

If the millennials can perform at their best by working at home, then allow that. If the baby boomers can rack up a respectable number of clients, then grant them their request to come in to those meetings in traditional business suits, if they so choose Don’t make the mistake of enforcing one rigid rule on this group. Instead, do what will optimize each segment, while making sure they do not lose their sight from the ball.

Find out what motivates them and reward them accordingly

Cash bonuses will appeal to all sectors. But one week of paid leave might be more attractive to your baby boomer. The Gen-Xer and the millennial might find worthier incentives accommodations that have the latest technologies that they can try out. California Corporate Housing, for example, may just offer you virtual reality games only if you ask them, because it also caters to other older guests who may consider them too juvenile for him. Right now, California Corporate Housing offers Smartcast devices in some of their units, which the much older generation may not mind learning how to use, as they are very much TV viewers, having grown up in the early years of TV.

As a global mobility specialist, the sooner you learn how to manage this multigenerational workforce the better. In just a few years’ time, a fourth generation is joining them:  Gen-Z (1992-to the present). What you learn now will prepare you when you start deploying them as assignees in the not-so-distant future.