Generational diversity in the workforce can be a tremendous advantage – as long as the generations understand each other and what each generation has to offer. While newer workers may have learned the technical skills needed to perform various tasks, there are many skills and abilities that can only be developed with experience. When older workers share their experience with newer workers, the experiential learning curve can be shortened significantly to the benefit of the entire workplace.
How Continuing Education Helps Generations Understand Each Other
A multigenerational workforce may have conflicts that stem from a lack of understanding about what drives and motivates different age groups. Continuing education training can fill in these knowledge gaps so that fewer misunderstandings occur. Besides information about the predominant traits of different generations, courses can also teach communication skills and help with general understanding beyond generational differences.
Training about generational differences and communication skills will not erase all conflicts–nothing will ever do that. But training can help multigenerational employees know what to expect from each other and also teach skills that will equip employees to resolve conflicts when they do arise.
How Continuing Education Fosters Generational Knowledge Transfer
Generational knowledge transfer might come naturally in some cases as an urgent need or problem arises and more experienced workers can help teach newer ones what to do. In many cases, however, generations aren’t naturally interacting with each other to transfer knowledge, which means that it’s more difficult to solve problems in the workplace. Productivity also suffers when not all workers have the skills they need because they lack experience.
Continuing education can help experienced workers learn how to transfer their knowledge in a more systematic and intentional way, such as in preparation for retirement or in the last years of employment. When employers have a definite plan about how to transfer generational knowledge, employees are more successful in doing so.
Generational knowledge transfer can also go from younger to older workers in some cases. Because younger workers often have more recent and current skills knowledge than many older workers who haven’t had any skills training in recent years, they may be able to help transfer their own skills knowledge to update the skills of older workers as changes and transitions happen in the workplace over time.
How Continuing Education Fosters Mentoring and Working With Groups
Formalized or informal mentoring programs are another good way of transferring knowledge from the more experienced to less experienced employees. Continuing education training can help mentoring programs be more effective at transferring knowledge and can teach older workers how to train small groups of newer workers.