Respecting the different ways that employees of different ages like to work is important in the office when there are multiple generations, motivational speaker Brian Carter told a crowd gathered Wednesday in Independence at a luncheon presented by Apple Growth Partners.

Apple Growth is an Akron-based CPA and business advising firm, with additional offices in Beachwood, Kent and Canton. Wednesday's event at the DoubleTree Hilton was coordinated by the firm's Diversity and Inclusion Committee for its employees and clients.

Apple Growth has five generations of employees from those known as the Silent Generation (ages 74 and older, according to the Pew Research Center) to Gen Z (22 and younger), said Chuck Mullen, chairman of Apple Growth Partners. Baby boomers are ages 55 to 73, Gen X is 39 to 54 and millennials are 23-38).

“Being able to understand where everyone comes from and being able to accept people" helps to bridge the gaps, he said.

“The key word is appreciation,” said Mullen. “Awareness is curative. Once you’re aware of the fact that the baby boomer may want a meeting, but the millennial may want to communicate through technology, we can start to get along.”

Mullen said he’s seen some staffers of the older generation appreciate the technology of a Skype video call instead of a physical meeting.

Communicating to appreciate and respect everyone, regardless of age, is key, said Carter.

But Carter said while the crowd might have expected him to discuss generational labels, he wasn’t going to do it.

“It’s divisive and counterproductive,” he said. “People don’t fit labels. Nobody fits these descriptions of what a millennial is or a boomer — and if you apply these labels, people get offended and say ‘It’s not me’ and it doesn’t help your work culture.”

Get to know the people you work with instead, Carter said.

Carter also said he didn’t believe in “the Golden Rule” of treating others as you would like to be treated, but the “the Platinum Rule” of treating others as they would like to be treated.

“Everyone is different and everyone should not be treated the same,” he said. “One-size-fits-all is too simple.”

In a presentation intermixed with humor, Carter said businesses are in a talent war now, trying to attract the best talent with unemployment rates low.

“If you want to keep working with these people, you have to create a culture you all want to be in,” he said. “If you want to grow as a team, be the company people talk about. They’re so inclusive, all generations want to be there.”

 

Beacon Journal consumer columnist and medical reporter Betty Lin-Fisher can be reached at 330-996-3724 or blinfisher@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow her @blinfisherABJ on Twitter or www.facebook.com/BettyLinFisherABJ and see all her stories at www.ohio.com/topics/linfisher