What Generational Differences in the Workplace and a Charcuterie Board Have in Common

Have you ever wondered what generational differences and a charcuterie board possibly have in common?  Well, while at a friend’s home on the weekend I was delighted to see an amazing assortment of delicious meats and cheeses that crowded a charcuterie board.  The textures, the display, the colour, the salty and sweet all combined on a platter and calling to me to taste.  There was a mixture of prosciutto, chorizo, sopressata, mortadella and pate´. Cheese, oh the cheese!  Blue cheese that was slightly stingy, aged cheddar that was tangy, crumbly feta, soft and creamy brie, smoked gouda and chunks of Parmigiano Reggiano. 

Surrounding all the delectable meat and cheese were grapes and figs, sliced pears, pistachios and cashews, olives and pickles and little jars of honey and jam.  Then there were breadsticks and crackers and crisps.  Sliced baguettes dipped in olive oil and slightly toasted perfectly ready for a dip into the bowl of homemade hummus.   The display was inviting, the combination of flavours was delectable and it was difficult to stop myself from going back for another little bite of something.

This delicious display of divine food and the people that were surrounding me reminded me of the importance of gathering with food and friends.  And I smile to myself.

Sometimes events like this create a light bulb moment in my mind.  And the charcuterie board did just that!   I began thinking about how the honey drizzled on the brie was sweet and soft and how the crunch of a pear wrapped in prosciutto was salty and scrumptious.  The aged cheddar was tart but worth the years it took to get it to that point.  And then the lightbulb turned on.  A charcuterie board is like a multi-generational workforce.

Today, the workplace is diverse and filled with people of different race, religion, education and age.  The thing to remember is that most people are working for the same reasons, job satisfaction, feeling valued, being recognized and appreciated, career development as well as compensation.  However, statistically, most do not leave due to a lack of compensation being the dominant factor.

Stereotyping generations truly does not assist any of us in the workplace. I’ve met many lazy and somewhat entitled 40 somethings in my day. Additionally, I seek google analytic guidance from a 72 year old. However, social trends and historical occurrence definitely shapes generations.

For discussion purposes, multi-generational workforces are comprised of: 

Traditionalists or Silent – born 1945 and before, this generations respects authority, has exceptional work ethic, are dependable and have excellent communication and interpersonal skills

The Baby Boomers – born between 1946 and 1964, this generation is educated, optimistic, ask why and perform well under pressure

Generation X – born between 1965 and 1976, this generation is hardworking, independent, do not like bureaucracy, are family oriented and socially responsible

Millennials (Gen Y) – born between 1977 and 1995, this generation is technologically savvy, highly social, thrive in work environments where they feel valued and need a healthy work-life balance

Generation Z – born 1996 to current, this is the i-Gen (iPhone, iPod, iTunes), social media is the key to this generation

According to a study by SHRM, here are three top reasons why age diversity is so important to the workplace:

Here are 3 reasons why age diversity in the workplace is so important:

#1  Age diversity in the workplace can improve productivity and organizational performance in companies with mixed-age work teams, this diversity contributes positively to complex decision-making tasks.

#2  Age diversity results in less employee turnover.  Workers who are 55 and older are loyal workers who stay in their jobs longer than younger employees.  This creates lower turnover costs and more experienced employees.

#3  Age diversity in the workplace generates innovation.  Experiences, predictions, techniques and viewpoints can become a source of strength and innovation when addressed and managed the right way.

Multi-generational workforces bring opportunities, experiences and skills for all.  For example, older workers offer history and experience and are loyal and reliable.  They are open to change, interested in learning and are often the leaders.  Millennials on the other hand are looking for opportunities to learn and grow, they are looking for opportunities to become leaders, they like challenges and accomplishments and prefer life over work.

Millennials grew up on the internet and can find anything they need to know.  Older workers are seasoned and have business intuition.  Leveraging the strengths of each generation will result in productivity and collaboration.  Once you put it together the various generations can work together to create a better workplace.  Not unlike the fixings on a charcuterie board. Pate on its own is unique yet paired with a beautiful cracker and perhaps some fig jam it innovates itself and all the pairings complement one another. It simply tastes and works better together.

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Tina Varughese