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Coaching for a multigenerational workforce

During the pandemic, 46% of Generation Z experienced a considerable change in work priorities and 44% experienced moderate to large alterations in the tasks they performed*. Unsurprisingly half of these respondents then reported they had difficulty adapting. Furthermore, 71% of Gen Z said they value the opportunity to work with coaches and mentors**. Perhaps they are on to something.

Given the sudden changes made to their work, it’s no surprise that Gen Z feel so strongly about coaching. In this situation, coaching employees throughout the period of change could have significantly decreased the difficulty in adapting. This does not solely apply to Gen Z, in today’s turbulent working world, leaders from all generational groups benefit from coaching.

Much has been written about differing generational expectations, needs and values which can cause conflict within an organisation. Taking consideration of generational differences is essential for leaders when coaching or leading an age diverse workforce, encouraging employees to become more effective in terms of both performance, relations and teamwork. With attraction and retention of staff now requiring a more human approach and employers no longer able to rely on a steady source of external talent, internal mobility will become more important than ever. Throw in the myriad working practices – agile, gig economy, international, freelancing – that are now prevalent, along with a turbulent business landscape, and coaching becomes even more important.

Having four different generations across a workforce can present a real challenge for leaders. Particular pain points include: 

  • Age discrimination and harmful stereotypes based on generational assumptions, such as ‘boomers’ and ‘snowflakes,’ cause tension and contribute to a culture of distrust.
  • Disconnection caused by differing approaches to hybrid working practices. A sense of ‘them and us’, can cause tension between those who work in the office and those who work from home. This can often materialise as a generational gap due to differing life situations.
  • Resilience is a huge issue for many organisations with such high rates of burnout at present. In Deloitte’s Workplace Burnout survey 84% of Millennials say they experienced burnout in their current job, making them the most burned-out generation. This is particularly concerning as this is the generational group most likely to be a current or future leader.
  • Upskilling and reskilling are now key to retaining talent and internal mobility, particularly in relation to new and potential leaders where many are promoted prematurely, causing high levels of failure. However, providing developmental practices that cater to all generational preferences is difficult.
  • Talent shortages caused by the great resignation and the great retirement. A wide talent pool is no longer available to employers meaning a rethink of how to attract and retain talent across generational groups.

Coaching can help by challenging leaders’ mindsets to support them in managing their teams more effectively. It can be helpful in:

  • Removing age-related stigma by identifying and adapting behaviours with empathy and emotional intelligence.
  • Helping to strengthen trust and connection by encouraging understanding and collaboration in hybrid working practices.
  • Providing reassurance in a psychologically safe space, where questions can be asked free of judgment in order to build resilience.
  • Aiding retention and workplace mobility through leadership conversations, to identify a tailored learning journey, ensuring employees feel engaged, heard, understood and valued.

However, a one-size-fits-all approach and making assumptions about generational needs should be approached with caution. Today’s workforce thrives from bespoke and personalised development tailored to their needs. Far from relying on assumptions, it pays to research the breadth of your team and offer options. Open conversation is essential in truly understanding an individual’s circumstances, what they need to work collaboratively and how best to communicate with them. 

Providing personalised, bespoke, yet flexible coaching to leaders is the key to a harmonious working culture inclusive of all ages. Mentoring opportunities throughout your organisation are also encouraged, however, make this is a two-way-street with senior employees learning from younger employees as well as vice versa in order to promote a sense of unity. Ultimately, it’s about finding common ground and establishing a sense of purpose. Coaching can support leaders in establishing clarity and purpose for themselves, their team and the business, all of which will impact positively on workplace wellbeing and productivity.

If you’d like to discuss how TLC Coaching can help your multigenerational organisation create sustainable success from coaching, email

* Deloitte (“European Workforce Survey”)
**“Generation Z vs the Workplace,” a 2021 study from HR Future