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Given the resulting future gains, companies are pushing more than ever to become more diverse (Shaban, 2016). Previously, only a small portion of the workforce dominated businesses and firms; nevertheless, corporations are also reaching out to more minorities, millennials, and people of color in order to adequately staff their workplace and foster potential leaders. Furthermore, a growing number of companies are working on a global scale, necessitating the need for a diverse workforce. However, new reports show that maintaining a diverse workforce has been a challenge for the majority of companies (Saxena, 2014). For instance, the generational gap is a diversity factor that is widely seen as a barrier to workplace diversity. At a time when diversity is increasingly becoming important, organizations are struggling to manage generational variations in their workforces. For instance, issues arise from opposing mindsets and communication styles of employees born in different eras. Therefore, there is no doubt that generational differences are a major issue when it comes to managing workplace diversity.
For the first time in history, most organizations, for instance, in the US have four generations in their workforce (Jones, 2017). It means there is a likelihood of seeing everyone from millennials to generation X, baby boomers, and experienced veterans working together. However, each group comes from a different historical orientation point that has predisposed their ideas with regard to issues such as work ethics, power, devotion, and work provisions (Jones, 2017). For instance, certain studies reveal that the silent generation is driven by work satisfaction (Jones, 2017). On the other hand, baby boomers derive their distinctiveness from being respected in the workplace, while generation X recognize growth in workplace skills as a source of security. Finally, generation Y would want to use work to make a difference. Even though the key is to effectively address the generational differences and take advantage of the diversity, most current managers choose to follow blanket stereotypes, thereby disadvantaging some workers (Jones, 2017).
Currently, organizational leaders are faced with the challenge of recognizing the characteristics of various generational groups (Patrick & Kumar, 2012). As a result, they have not been able to improve understanding, collaboration, and communication between employees or team members. Diversity management is a process that is supposed to create and uphold a positive work atmosphere where variation and similarities of workers are appreciated so that everyone can reach their potential. However, it seems this has been a problem in most recent organizations (Kapoor & Solomon, 2011). Failure to address generational differences has led to problems that affect productivity and profitability. For instance, recent studies link the increase in turnovers among millennials to organizations' failure to understand and recognize differences among multigenerational workers (Jones, 2017). Therefore, there is no doubt that the general business problem that current managers face is how to recognize the variations among multigenerational employees. In other words, human resource managers lack the strategies to retain a workforce comprising of staff from different generations.
Analysis of the Issue
Human resource management (HRM) is charged with the responsibility of managing the human aspect of an organization (Patrick & Kumar, 2012). It should be done in such a way that a company's objectives are accomplished along with employee growth and fulfillment (Patrick & Kumar, 2012). When organizations contract employees from different generational groups, it is normally difficult for the HRM to exercise its duties. At the same time, employees also find it difficult to adapt to that environment. To manage such a diverse workforce is a challenge because each individual is different from the other considering that they belong to a completely different group, which means that they have different thought processes and perceptions. When they are brought together to work side-by-side, then definitely a situation might arise where all these diverse people may not agree on something (Patrick & Kumar, 2012). The friction might be aggravated by things such as work patterns in ever-changing teams and new technology, more so when it comes to millennials. Such a situation might have a major impact on the interpersonal relationship among people in an organization (Saxena, 2014).
A cordial personal relationship among workers is one of the main elements for ensuring a smooth running of a business (Saxena, 2014). An organization is a network of people who labor together to accomplish some common goal and if this link has some gaps then it would be very difficult for the institution to those objectives in an effective manner. At the same time, members of each generation may not be particularly interested in learning about new viewpoints or ways of tackling a problem. If the situation is not properly managed, it might also affect personal relationship within the workplace, thereby affecting productivity (Saxena, 2014). The amount of change that a multigenerational workforce brings with it might also be an obstacle in creating a pleasant relationship among employees. More often, change is resisted by many people who feel more comfortable with maintaining the status quo (Saxena, 2014). Therefore, it means that diversity of any kind might bring tension at the workplace if not properly managed.
The role of HRM in retaining employees is to encourage skillful workers to stay. Having an understanding of why some workers choose to leave organizations is important, but then again it is more critical to identify the institutional characteristics that make people commit to companies. It is vital for firms to retain the best talent given that it eradicates the selection, and hiring cost of substituting key personnel. Many pieces of literature describe workplace retention as a deliberate move by an organization to establish an atmosphere that promotes long-lasting staff engagement (Shaban, 2016). However, with the current diverse workforce that comprise of personnel from different generations, creating a favorable environment as well as leadership styles, development opportunities, compensation programs, and work-life balance that promote employee retention is challenging (Kapoor & Solomon, 2011). Therefore, it could be argued that as much as generational differences bring with it many benefits, it has made it more challenging for organizations to enhance staff commitment and retain diverse talents. As a result, it has led to high turnover rates.
Based on the above discussion, diversity at the workplace could be regarded as a double-edged blade (Shaban, 2016). For instance, the positive impacts of having a multigenerational staff are more often acknowledged in terms of intellectual outcomes such as greater innovation, ideas, and creativity that such employees could bring (Shaban, 2016). Conversely, the negative effects of diversity at the workplace are normally recognized in relation to adverse consequences such as less social cohesion, personal conflicts, and higher turnover rates due to employees' different perceptions and opposing stereotypes (Shaban, 2016). For instance, previous studies have found that workforce diversity could reduce organization_x0092_s speed to respond, lead to low job satisfaction and communication, thereby leading to lower performance (Jones, 2017).
Creating a culture that encourages the free exchange of ideas and value for all individuals is one strategy that organizations should use to effectively manage their diverse workforce (Jones, 2017). A number of institutions have succeeded in creating an all-inclusive culture. A good reference point is Saint Leo University, an organization that has flourished by valuing all individuals, unique talents and respecting people's dignity (Saint Leo University, 2017). The University encourages unity and diversity among its people, free exchange of ideas, and on working harmoniously (Saint Leo University, 2017). In this case, the same could be achieved by implementing flexible workplace and training programs for personnel (Jones, 2017). For example, alternative work locations, flexible working hours, and other arrangements can be used to maintain a high level of engagement among certain groups of employees. However, for this to work favorably for both employees and organizations, managers must be competent when it comes to designing effective programs. Creating a culture that encourages the free exchange of ideas and value for all individuals can be achieved through training programs (Shaban, 2016). Such programs can provide formal approaches for comprehending diversity problems and generational differences (Shaban, 2016).
Organizations also need to come up with precise reward strategies that can promote, attract, and motivate multigenerational workers (Jones, 2017). Creating a one-size-fits-all remuneration approach can be unfavorable to firms because it could lead to direct or indirect economic consequences for businesses (Jones, 2017). More often, most managers feel that providing attractive rewards and greater benefits are effective in retaining and motivating staff. However, according to previous studies, the value of generational workers is what will determine their level of motivation from a reward viewpoint (Kapoor & Solomon, 2011). The current generational mix that is becoming a challenge to businesses requires managers to adjust and come up with innovative retention and compensation policies that can take into consideration the diverse ideals, desires, and work ethics of generational labor force (Jones, 2017). It is important for HRM to consider the inclinations and drives of generational workers if they are to attract and retain talent and to improve productivity. It would be beneficial for firms to find a way of segmenting their staff based on compensation preferences in a manner that will ensure a balance between employees' needs and organizational efficiency.
The paper has presented a discussion on generational differences as an issue that is currently affecting most organizations. The increasing need to enhance productivity and cultivate future leaders has forced firms to fully staff their workplace with employees from different generations. However, organizational leaders are faced with the challenge of recognizing the characteristics of various generational groups. As a result, improving understanding, collaboration, and communication between employees or team members has been a challenge. According to the paper, the situation has had a major impact on the interpersonal relationship among people in many organizations. At the same time, as much as generational differences bring with it many benefits, it has made it more challenging for organizations to enhance staff commitment and retain diverse talents. Therefore, the paper proposes the need to create a culture that encourages the free exchange of ideas and value for all individuals. Organizations also need to come up with precise reward strategies that can promote, attract, and motivate multigenerational workers.
Jones, L. M. (2017). Strategies for retaining a multigenerational workforce. Journal of Business & Financial Affairs, 06(02), 1-11. doi:10.4172/2167-0234.1000271
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Patrick, H. A., & Kumar, V. R. (2012). Managing workplace diversity. SAGE Open, 2(2), 215824401244461. doi:10.1177/2158244012444615
Saint Leo University. (2017). Core Values | Saint Leo Undergraduate Admissions. Retrieved from http://choose.saintleo.edu/about-saintleo/core-values/
Saxena, A. (2014). Workforce diversity: a key to improve productivity. Procedia Economics and Finance, 11, 76-85. doi:10.1016/s2212-5671(14)00178-6
Shaban, A. (2016). Managing and leading a diverse workforce: one of the main challenges in management. Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences, 230, 76-84. doi:10.1016/j.sbspro.2016.09.010
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