Generations in the Workplace and Conflict

Generations in the workplace

Generations in the Workplace and Conflict

Conflict is inevitable when a group of people with differing values and opinions work together. This conflict can be a positive experience if people with differing views and needs can work towards an agreed solution, or it can become destructive if there isn’t a willingness to collaborate and work towards a solution.

The diversity of individuals in the workplace today creates a workplace with a variety of experiences, beliefs and needs. Conflict in the workplace may occur if the differences between individuals are not recognized and understood. (Whilst conflict in the workplace may arise from interpersonal differences your organisation must also consider that it may be caused by ineffective organisational systems.)

Our differences are shaped by our personality, our background and our experiences and all influence how we work. The very different life experiences of each generation has an impact on the workplace and the potential to create conflict. Understanding the generational differences between individuals can avoid conflict.

Each of us can be characterised by the generation we were born into. A generation is defined by the time period people are born within. Each generation is influenced by events and the social, political, economic and technological trends of the period. These influences have an impact upon how we view and interact with our world.

Whilst you can’t generalise you may see some similar characteristics in the workplace, for example each generation has different expectations of the workplace and different ways of communicating in the workplace e.g. Gen Y’s use of technology and social media means they have different ways of behaving in the workplace and in time this will transform the workplace.

The generations have been classified as follows:

  • Traditionalists – Born between 1925 -1946
  • Baby Boomers – Born between 1946-1964
  • Generation X – Born between 1965-1980
  • Generation Y – Born after 1980

Understanding generational differences may be useful if conflict occurs, but remember that this is only one aspect of how we behave in the workplace. In any conflict, consider the individual and their particular values and beliefs, but also consider the organisation and how its systems may contribute to conflict in the workplace.

Understanding the causes of conflict is just the starting point for resolving any conflict and each organisation must have defined activities in place which aim to settle disputes.

One way to manage conflict in the workplace is to have a third party mediator who is objective and able to assist parties work towards resolution through a planned process.

If you require assistance with (generations in the workplace, or any other) workplace conflict please read more.