All Ages - 3 Strategies for Maximizing Workplace Diversity

Never before have 5 distinct generations of accounting and audit professionals worked together. In 2013, workplace diversity is the norm. The Baby Boomers (those born 1943-1960) and Generation X (1960-1980) are sharing cubicle and department space with the Veterans (1922-1943) and two overlapping segments of workers: the Millennials (1980-2000) and Generation Z, who were born between 1992 and 2000.

Differences in communication styles and work ethics may be perceived as a potential area for corporate culture clash, but a workplace diversity can stimulate valuable mentoring and even foster greater productivity in your accounting, finance or audit team. Veterans' sense of sacrifice can complement Baby Boomers' focus on personal growth. Gen X'ers bring diversity and self-reliance to the team, while all can benefit from the sociability and technological prowess of Generation Z and the Millennials group, also known as Generation Y.

To effectively lead such a group and benefit from workplace diversity, financial managers must learn the values and habits of each group—and how to leverage their best qualities. Here are 3 strategies for yielding maximum results:

  • Inter-Group "Mingling" — In additional to being more accessible, senior managers can run a mentoring program that develops future company leaders. When coaching the most promising staff members, be aware of differing viewpoints and possible triggers of conflict. For example, Generation Z workers are sometimes stereotyped as spoiled—yet have competed with historically more people for jobs than any other age group.
  • Team Performance Management — While Millennials have a seemingly greater need for validation, it's important to recognize all employees. An appraisal or incentive system requiring nomination from fellow team members can engender more appreciation and cooperation across age groups. This benefits financial professionals who may under develop people skills in favor of technical proficiency.
  • A Mix of Different Communication Styles — Since finance and accounting professionals are increasingly mobile, being proficient in email and text messaging is essential for business. But team members should not avoid in-person and phone correspondence, which builds invaluable rapport, both internally and externally. Workplace diversity can cover all your bases.

The complete Protiviti report on how to maximize a diverse finance department is available for download here.