Finding shared values in multigenerational workplaces

An award-winning human resources advisor tells us why finding shared values in your workplace is so beneficial. 

Photo of workers of different ages sitting on chairs in a circle in an office meeting room.

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How do we engage everyone in a multigenerational workplace? By finding our shared values.

That’s the message from Tierra Madani, an award-winning human resources advisor who spoke at Make it Safe 2021, hosted by the Manufacturing Safety Alliance of BC. Recently, I contacted Tierra to learn more about how finding shared values builds connection.

“We are all seeking connections and meaning in almost everything we do, and this is especially true when it comes to how we contribute through the work we do,” Tierra says. “Shared values create and sustain strong connections between your team members. Those connections ultimately foster a happy and productive environment where everyone feels valued.”

Safety as a shared value

In her presentation at Make It Safe 2021, Tierra shared an example of a safety simulation, done with her co-workers at Vancouver Island Brewing. Their safety-themed afternoon took place on Halloween and started with a “lunch and learn” safety presentation hosted by their joint health and safety committee.

Then, after lunch, everyone joined in on a realistic safety simulation.

Tierra explains that staff were grouped so people from different areas of the organization were working together. Teams showed up ”on scene” in the warehouse, where simulated incidents had been set up by the company’s safety ambassadors. Tierra says, “Scenes included a forklift incident, a dangerous fall, and an incident with a conveyor belt.” Groups were asked to determine what happened, by completing an incident report form together. “This simulation brought all departments together in a collaborative and engaging way. We learned more about safety practices at our brewery by sharing multiple perspectives and experiences.”

Building trust between generations

I asked Tierra to tell me more about the benefit of finding our shared values. She says: “A team whose members can count on one another is ultimately a winning team, so it is absolutely ‘worth it’ to engage and create strong, lasting connections among your team members. In today’s multigenerational workplace, there are many opportunities to learn from one another and to build trust and respect.”

An example of this can be found in my post, Bridging a generation gap improves safety on fishing boats. In it, Jesse Kunce, a WorkSafeBC officer, said: “There’s often a mix of aging masters with a lot of knowledge to share, and new workers who might not understand what the masters are talking about.” He emphasized the importance of communication and understanding one another.

In another of my posts, Talking safety with different generations in the workplace, Sasje Chomos, a safety conference presenter, talked about how employers can keep everyone on the same page (or screen) when it comes to safety. She gave the example of a safety bulletin that is available online and to print. The formats are potentially convenient for both younger workers who are used to consuming digital media and older workers who prefer a traditional copy.

Thank you to Tierra for answering all my questions. How about you, readers? How do you deal with challenges of communication among multigenerational teams at work?

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