November 03, 2017

Fostering Cross Generational Collaboration

by Natalia Bubis

Earlier this year, we wrote about the importance of working with “the new kids.” That’s right: Millennials. They make up the largest portion of the American workforce, and employers have been reckoning with the generational difference for a few years. By 2030, they’ll make up 75 percent of the workforce.

From an organizational standpoint, however, consider that executive level positions tend to fall to those over 50. There are plenty of reasons for this, including levels of experience and more. “It makes sense that for large, complex companies, the executive who holds the highest leadership position would have more and diverse experiences, which would translate to more years in the workforce,” says Tierney Remick, vice chairman for Korn Ferry Board and CEO Services, the firm who researched average age in the C-suite.

I share those figures to highlight why knowledge sharing across the multigenerational workforce is so critical. Many Baby Boomers, those born between the mid 1940s and mid-1960s, are retiring if they haven’t already—and with them goes decades of valuable institutional knowledge.

These figures highlight the importance of collaboration between generations, lest we find ourselves in a crisis. Digital media firm American Inno writes that older generations within companies of all types should be helping to transform raw talent into valuable skills to drive businesses forward. More from
American Inno:

Not only can they teach millennials hard, job-specific skills they need to complete tasks at the office, but also tutor them in the even more important soft skills. Millennials sometime lack basic knowledge about how to navigate the workplace. The older generation can provide crucial advice about office hierarchy, how to communicate, and behave professionally.

Their breadth of experience and superior position in the office also equips them to educate younger co-workers about how to effectively lead and manage people. Such insights will help millennials advance their careers and expedite their rise up the corporate ladder.

But what’s critical to remember is that this type of knowledge sharing should be a two-way street. And it’s about much more than ensuring that the outgoing CFO’s expertise is documented for his replacement to read up on. Younger workers bring new ideas to the table, fresh sets of ideas to long-standing challenges, and can invigorate organizational thinking.

Creating cross-generational teams, for instance, to solve challenges is one way that organizations can harness the power of a changing workforce demographic. It’s an organic way to share knowledge, foster greater team work, and use the generation gap to your advantage.

Are there any ways you’ve encouraged cross-generational collaboration in your organization? I’d love to hear them. Contact me directly at

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Posted: November 03, 2017 by Natalia Bubis Filed under: employee, millennials, workplace