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Individuals in different generations have trouble relating to one another. Is this news?

It is if interferes in the workplace. Differences in communication style and attitudes toward rewards are key factors managers should address when juggling the needs of the three main generations in the workplace, Gen Y (aged 18-29), Gen X (aged 30-47), and baby boomers (aged 48-65), according to findings from an international workplace survey.

The survey, by Kelly Services, finds that Gen Y is increasingly using instant messaging, yet all age groups overwhelmingly prefer face-to-face communication. When receiving rewards and bonuses, younger workers prefer cash payments, while many older workers opt for non-cash rewards such as time off work and training opportunities.

Among other key findings:

  • Baby boomers believe they understand the generational differences better than Gen Y or Gen .
  • In communicating with colleagues, all generations prefer face-to-face discussion over written or electronic communication.
  • Gen Y largely opt for traditional cash rewards while many Gen X and baby boomers lean toward non-cash benefits such as time off work and training opportunities.
  • More than a third (38 percent) say they have experienced intergenerational conflicts in their workplace.

There is acknowledgement across the spectrum that age-related differences do impact the way people go about their work, and 74 percent say they adapt their communication style in dealing with colleagues from a different generation.