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The Multigenerational Workforce: Are We Speaking The Same Language?

When it comes to retirement, more and more Americans are choosing to retire well past the recommended age of 65. Whether it’s because they want to or need to, would-be retirees are remaining active longer in the workforce, which means the generational gap between coworkers is much more diverse than ever before. Baby Boomers are working alongside Millennials, and possibly even Gen Z’ers at this point. But what does that mean when it comes to workplace communication?



Naturally, communication between generations can sometimes be tricky. While, Gen Y and Z’ers prefer text-based communication, Generation X and Baby Boomers prefer a face-to-face connection. But it’s more than that. Different generations value formal and informal approaches to communication.


In fact, a recent study by Grammerly revealed workers under 35 were 50% more likely than older workers to be told their tone was too informal. The constant use of emojis and visual cues like GIFS to clarify tone in emails, for example, doesn’t necessarily go over well with older colleagues.



While the younger generation feel older coworkers overuse of punctuation, such as periods and ellipsis, come off as stern and passive aggressive. That’s because every last character you use has a purpose and meaning behind it for this generation.


The ever-emerging multi-generational workforce demands a shift in the way we interact and relate to each other. Miscommunication between between age groups is fairly common, so in order to effectively work together, everybody from Generation Z to experienced Baby Boomers will have to understand each other’s values and more importantly, adapt to communicating over a broad range of channels.



Whether that be: emails for direct complex tasks, or instant messaging for quick check-ins and collaborations, phone calls for urgent matters, and even face-to-face meetings when the need calls for it.


Communicating in the workplace is not about tailoring a specific preference to fit one generation, but rather, letting the demands of the tasks guide how we communicate with each other. When we have a better sense of how to express our ideas and opinions to multi-generations, we can all work in a more effective manner.

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