For the first time, up to four different generations are working
together side-by-side. Supervisors are managing people with an age
difference ranging up to 40 years. Conflict and tension naturally
arise when people with such differing backgrounds work together.
Recent research suggests up to one in three managers waste up to
five hours per week dealing with conflict between co-workers of
different generations.

Technology plays a role in the way in which Gen X and
Millennials communicate: they have been ‘talking’ via technology
their entire lives, so it’s no surprise that social networks and
more informal styles of communication are their preferred options
in the workplace.

Growing up in a digital era with information at their
fingertips, these younger generations expect and appreciate
frequent and in-time feedback. They are also more loyal to their
skill than they are to their employer. For Baby Boomers, loyalty
means that personal sacrifice for career achievement and the
company are the norm.

The younger generation of employees also value work– life
balance and believe productivity matters more than time spent
working. Autonomy and freedom to complete tasks how they want, when
they want and by what means they want is important. ‘Why?’ is a
frequent response to a workplace request.

The following statements are often heard in the office
corridors: ‘Millennials are always on their phones and never
pay attention’ or ‘The younger generation don’t understand the
meaning of loyalty’.

Source: Adapted from Calvert, L. (2016), How to manage
generational differences in the workplace. Feed & Grain, 56(2),
pp. 72– 7.

3a) Discuss the importance
of understanding cultural variations in managing conflict.

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