By Ashley Stahl, Originally Published in Forbes

Did you ever think you could end up working alongside someone your grandmother’s age?

Well, the reality of today’s workforce points to…yes. 

With Generation-Z stepping up as the newest members of society to head to the office each morning, there are currently five generations active in the workplace. They are joining the Silents (those born between 1925–1946), the Baby Boomers (born between 1946–1964), Gen-X (born between 1965–1976) and Millennials (born between 1977–1995).

This means that people born around the time of World War II and the Great Depression are working alongside someone who probably hasn’t ever had to use a landline phone. Talk about a completely different life experience!

These generation gaps have created conflict within the workforce, where 70% of older employees dismissed the abilities of their younger colleagues and 50% of those young employees dismissed the abilities of their older counterparts. This dismissal could look like not applying their input or simply ignoring it altogether.  

What this looks like is a great deal of mistrust and misunderstanding that leads to conflict within the workplace. A survey of CEO’s revealed that 55% of leaders believe a lack of trust in the workplace is the largest threat to their company. Simply put, if you want your business to succeed long term, you need to build trust among coworkers across generations. I have been fortunate to consult with businesses on how to build trust among their teams and seen great shift take place as a result.

Here are 3 things you can implement within your business now to start creating trust and collaboration among different generations of employees so that Generation-Z (those born in 1996 or later) is prepped for success.

1. Create generational training and mentorship.

When you put someone in a position to train or you offer mentorship, their leadership capabilities and communication skills will improve. Sadly, a study by Deloitte revealed that younger employees are missing out on these key interpersonal skills and confidence in the workplace.

This is why business should consider implementing a reverse mentoring program, where the younger generations can trainolder team members on new technology skill sets. This could include training on social media management, software programs and communication platforms. A study by Frontiers in Psychology found that although older generations are excited to learn about technology, they shy away from it due to their lack of instructions and guidance. Use your young talent as a channel for this guidance to older workers who want to feel empowered in their relationship with technology. 

This will build trust in the older generations while the action of teaching someone something new will provide the younger generations with a sense of purpose. Don’t forget…the protege effect will also come into play, where teaching someone else actually helps the teacher learn more themselves.  

2. Showcase knowledge.

Create transparency in the workplace to display the unique skill set or background knowledge that each employee holds. 

Organize a meeting where employees are encouraged to share what their best skill sets are. When you ask someone to speak about their passions or best skillsets at work, it grows respect amongst their team, educates employees on what to turn to each other for, and gets them more excited to come to work.  

Moreover, 88% of employees aren’t passionate about their work, so one of the best ways to create passion is to remove fear of rejection in the workplace. In fact, the same study revealed that people also feel a lack of passion because their creativity isn’t welcomed at work. However, their creativity is much needed! When you consider that 79% of employees agree most work presentations are boring, it’s time to cultivate a creative spark in the workplace!.  

3. Conduct innovative bonding experiences.

Work can’t be all work when you are faced with generational diversity. All generations agree that intentional team building helps the workplace culture and is worth the time and effort.  

Be strategic in the types of events you choose, because Gen-Y and Z will resist overly forced, inorganic events, while the Baby Boomers and Gen-X may tend to appreciate the firmer structure. 

People want to enjoy people they enjoy spending time with, pick activities that will foster friendship. Since 91% of employees surveyed said they have coworkers, they consider close friends as one of the main reasons they enjoy work.

Here are a few suggestions to consider for your next team gathering:

  • Gelling: Akeakami Quest: Use this team-building application where people go on a virtual deserted island and have to use communication and teamwork to succeed in recovering their quest. This is really great for Agile and Scrum teams, but since it is an app based game will pull the tech-inclined employees into to get involved, and again, help the older generations with the technology.
  • Escape Rooms: Enter into an alternative setting where a team of people work together to solve puzzles and escape from the “room.” This is a great way to help employees learn how to work together and solve problems without having the workings of the day-to-day corporate stress get in the way.
  • The Go-Game: Turn to this platform to find activities that are geared specifically to your business size and industry. You can run through a customized scavenger hunt in your local area, conduct team building for charities or even learn how to build bikes as a team.  

Everyone has something unique to offer to the workplace regardless of their age and experience. It is a matter of helping your employees showcase this side of themselves and build lasting respectful relationships with each other. 

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  • I'm a career coach, keynote speaker, podcast host (You Turn Podcast) and author, here to help you step into a career you're excited about and aligned with. This may look like coaching you 1:1, hosting you in one of my courses, or meeting you at one of workshops or keynote speaking engagements! I also own CAKE Media, a house of ghostwriters, copywriters, publicists and SEO whizzes that help companies and influencers expand their voice online. Before being an entrepreneur, I was an award-winning counterterrorism professional who helped the Pentagon in Washington, DC with preparing civilians to prepare for the frontlines of the war on terror.