Better Together? Examining Benefits and Tensions of Generational Diversity and Team Performance

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Age is the most dominant form of diversity in the workplace. Five generations are currently represented in the workplace, with each one having their own perspectives and communication styles. Workplace teams are most likely to be comprised of members from multiple generations, yet research is inconclusive regarding how age diversity is impacting productivity and team performance. To examine preferences of working in teams comprising same generation or different generation members, a survey was disseminated to a sample of employees across various organizations in the current workforce, ages 18 and up. The survey examined perceptual generational differences regarding work ethic, communication styles, technology, culture and diversity, and other core values. Results indicate employees value generational diversity and believe generationally diverse teams increase team performance. However, findings indicate tensions are likely to occur when working in generationally diverse teams, including the ability to communicate and transfer knowledge. This research identifies the growing desire for generational diversity in the workforce and points out where investments in training and resources are needed to support knowledge transfer, optimize strengths, and ensure communication is heard and understood by all.