We stand at the precipice of a transformative era—a tipping point of change where six generations, spanning from the Silent Generation to Gen A (those as young as five years old,) hold a place, voice, and influence on society. This convergence of generations coincides with the rapid acceleration of technology, shaping how we live, work, and envision the future.

Boomers, Gen Xers, and the Silent Generation find themselves asking profound questions about the future such as “What are the options for the next generations?”  “How does technology impact my future?” Millennials are diving into tech to advance careers, improve work-life balance, and get ahead. Meanwhile, Gen Zers and Gen Alpha (students) are harnessing AI, VR, and other advanced technologies to learn, explore, and navigate their careers and lives.

Generation Years Born Characteristics
Silent 1928-1945 Resilient, Traditional
Boomers 1946-1964 Optimistic, Work-Centric
Gen X 1965-1980 Independent, Adaptable
Millennials 1981-1996 Tech-Savvy, Purpose-Driven
Gen Z 1997-2012 Digital Natives, Entrepreneurial
Gen A 2013-Present Tech-Integrated, Socially Conscious

A recent Gartner survey noted that 34% of organizations have implemented AI tools organization-wide, with another 56% having major projects in process. However, the greatest obstacle to fully leveraging technology for competitive advantage is the lack of PEOPLE. This does not mean programmers or data scientists, but people skilled in effectively using technology to solve real problems and deliver valuable solutions to customers.

The question for leaders today is ‘how can we engage, empower and leverage the skills, perspectives and talent across all generations to as we embrace technology?’

From my work with cross-generational teams, the keys to unlocking the power of diverse generations in the workplace are:

  • Facilitate Cross-Generational Collaboration: Create opportunities for knowledge sharing and collaboration among different generations. By offering social activities that appeal to people across the generations and demonstrating respect for all, Adobe, Cisco, and others have created an environment where people want to ‘return to office’ to collaborate, share, and gain insight from their cross-generational colleagues.
  • Implement Reverse Mentoring: Organisations like IKEA and Google have implemented a reverse mentoring program –  pairing Gen Z team members with Millennials with Boomers. This has resulted in improved outcomes, increased collaboration, and lifelong learning for the employees. By gaining insights into how different generations approach a problem or opportunity, workplace conflicts are minimized, and employees become more engaged.
  • Embrace Technology as an Enabler: Advanced technologies like AI are tools to enhance productivity, efficiency, and creativity across all generations. Leaders should encourage experimentation and the use of new technologies to solve challenging problems. By developing and using forums in which employees across generations can openly share what works and what doesn’t they and their teams become future-ready.  It is however important to define and ensure transparency on how AI, VR, or other technologies are used in all solutions.
  • AI Learning Labs: Across all generations, the daily use of AI is reasonably new. From Udemy to Accenture, forward-learning organizations challenge employees to define real problems that AI might help solve and explore using tools to create a solution. By meeting weekly in a ‘learning lab’ with diverse colleagues, they perfect the solution AND learn new approaches and perspectives. Each generation brings unique strengths and insights, which can drive innovation and problem-solving.
  • Clarity and Alignment on Purpose: Consistently across each of the generations, people are most engaged and productive when they know and believe in the purpose of the team and organization.  Ensure each employee understands how their job fits into the company mission and why this is important to them.

As people we all need to know What’s In It For Me – WIIFM.

Technology, including AI, Reshapes the Workplace

The world has changed – technology adoption is accelerating at unprecedented rates. Projections show that nearly half of the workforce will need major skill upgrades within the next three years (BCG AI Radar, 2024). Leaders can build a future-ready organization while gaining a competitive advantage by developing a learning culture and encouraging cross-generational collaboration and sharing.

Boomers offer experience and context. Gen X brings adaptability and a drive to reinvent. Millennials spearhead tech adoption. Gen Z brings new native ideas for using emerging technologies. Gen Alpha will spearhead navigation through the AI-powered workplace.

PEACE across the Generations

We are at the precipice of change. Thrive in the future of work with PEACE:

  • Purpose: Ensure all are clear about the company’s purpose and what it means to them.
  • Exploration: Encourage cross-generational teams to explore ways technology can solve real problems
  • Action: Build a culture of action, trying, failing, learning
  • Collaboration:  Create an environment where all want to work, play, and learn through social activities, learning labs, mentoring, and open sharing.
  • Empowerment: Encourage people to try, learn, and develop new approaches leveraging technology – ideally in cross-generational teams to gain a diverse perspective.

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