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Managing Generational Differences in the Human Resources Role

As the workforce evolves, human resources departments are increasingly called upon to address a variety of challenging situations. Professionals in this field are tasked to manage reward systems, conflicts, organizational assessments, and numerous other duties while adhering to a strict code of ethics. And as current generations near the latter part of their careers and younger generations step into the workforce, Human Resources professionals are forced to mitigate the complications of an age gap among employees and the various problems associated with this.

Understanding Different Generations

To understand how to meet all of the generations’ needs correctly, it’s important to appreciate their demographics.

  • Baby Boomers: This group was born between 1946 and 1964, and they are considered competitive and have the sentiment that workers should pay their dues before success is achieved.
  • Generation X: This group of individuals consists of those born between 1962 and 1979. These workers aren't shy about asking for a raise, and their primary motivation is a good paycheck and benefits.
  • Millennials: The youngest of all generations, born between 1980 and 1994, Millennials view the work they do as a personal expression and have a desire to understand how their efforts fit within the big picture of a company. They hold a global perspective and easily accept diversity.

It’s also important that Human Resources professionals don’t stereotype individuals based on their age or their generation. Some Millennials may display discipline and fortitude surpassing that of individuals born in the 1930s, and some members of Generation X may possess attributes typically associated with a younger generation. While classification of generations is beneficial when dealing with certain situations, such as age gap, it by no means represents all individuals who fall within a select age group.

Offering Proper Training

Employees of all age groups perform better at their job when they are well trained. In fact, Millennials are known for demanding better training and mentors, just as Generation X individuals are known for demanding higher pay and bonuses. Training isn't merely a great way to give all employees what they need, it's also an excellent opportunity to foster tolerance and acceptance of people from different generational backgrounds. For instance, a Human Resources professional can implement a small workshop, covering a new technology, and pair together individuals from different age brackets. Tactics such as this not only help heighten older individuals’ understanding of emerging technology, but also encourage greater generational interaction and shared learning between different generations.

Finding a Range of Benefits

A diverse group of workers requires a varying array of benefit options, and Human Resources professionals must balance the needs of employees. Younger generations enjoy paid vacations to pursue non-work related goals, such as volunteering. But, as people mature and have families, maternity leave becomes a priority. Whereas older employees require excellent health insurance programs. With numerous desires from individuals of different generations, Human Resources professionals are often called upon to explain the varying options within a company’s policies that will appease all parties. Thus, it’s paramount that Human Resources professionals possess strong communication skills and can explain the pros and cons of the options and plans a company offers.

Continued Education

For Human Resources professionals, to effectively address a variety of challenging situations, like managing generational differences, obtaining proper training and education is vital. Pursuing a Master of Arts in Human Resource Management, such as the one through Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota, is one of the best ways to receive valuable training and education—including how to manage generational differences. The Saint Mary’s curriculum is designed to build upon your current skills as a Human Resources professional, ensuring that you leave with a mastery of not only the day-to-day tasks required of Human Resources departments, but also a thorough understanding of performance management, which will help keep your team efficient and working well together. The program also mirrors the standards set by the Society of Human Resources Management (SHRM).

Learn more about becoming an effective Human Resources professional with Saint Mary's University of Minnesota’s online Master of Arts in Human Resource Management degree program. The flexibility of the program is ideal for busy working professionals looking to take their careers to the next level, while still managing life’s other numerous responsibilities. Call 877-308-9954 to speak with an enrollment counselor or click here for more information.