Not since the women's movement caused an uproar over the "Battle of the Sexes" has there been so much press about a change in the workplace. The "Battle of the Generations" has been getting a lot of attention in the past several months and it's mostly centering on the youngest generation in the workforce: Gen Y. Everyone from The Wall Street Journal to The New York Times has had significant articles about how difficult the "kids" are to work with. Is there any good news? As with all hot-button issues, there's another side of the story.

Let's take a quick look at who the "enemy" is. Gen Yers are between 18 and 29 years old. They're the first generation that has grown up exposed to computers their entire life and consider cell phones, instant messaging and the internet part of their normal way of life. They're also a generation known for being encouraged and even fawned over for the sheer fact of their existence. Pretty heady stuff to those who remember the civil rights struggles, the Vietnam War and the women's movement.

Is there a way for us to work together productively? Absolutely. Let's look at how we can play to everyone's strengths. To get insight on this sensitive issue, I went to the expert--Mary Clark, executive director of Winning Workplaces, who says Gen Yers can offer a lot to those of us over 55.

* They're tech savvy. Many of us who are over 55 use technology to accomplish specific tasks but aren't totally comfortable with all the applications that would make our work easier. Clark has found that the younger generation can look at a problem and solve it before we get our arms around it.

* They're connected to the marketplace. While we're reading newspapers and magazines, which reflect on things that have happened, they're reading blogs and wikis and can see what is happening now and can more easily predict what will happen in the future.

* They have boundless energy. Maybe it's their youth or their "I can do anything" attitudes, but Gen Yers have a tremendous amount of energy and enthusiasm.

While it's good to recognize strengths, we've all heard extensive reports of the difficulties of working with younger employees. But you don't have to have that same experience. Here are several ways to accentuate Gen Y's positives and minimize their negatives:

* Let them participate. Invite your employees to participate in discussions that affect their work and listen to their ideas. This can be a challenge because their feedback may not be what you're expecting or what you want to hear.

* Consider reorganization. It might be time to reorganize your employees and their work flow into teams. This may require a huge shift in your thinking, but it's become increasingly important for all employees in your business to know what everyone else is doing. This will improve cooperation among departments, provide great cross training and foster efficient problem solving.

Reorganizing also leads to another concept that may be challenging: flextime. Many organizational gurus say that the traditional nine-to-five work day is going the way of white-wall tires. As you re-examine your organization, determine whether it's really necessary to have employees punching the clock.

* Give feedback. Gen Yers feel it's important to know what they're doing well and to link needed improvements to goals and benchmarks. Setting goals, next steps and measurable outcomes is the most effective way to create accountability and shared expectations. It's also an excellent way to keep your company on track.

* Be a mentor. Even though we hear about their agility at IMing, texting and social networking, it's important for us to remember that the work environment is new for many of today's young employees. They aren't always clear on how to relate to colleagues and clients, and they're encountering a host of new challenges. This is part of our role as business leaders: We need to connect them to the value of relationships and experience.

Clark says what we're really grappling with in this "Battle of the Generations" is change. Just as we freaked out our elders with tie-dyed shirts, protesting and wild music, the Gen Yers are challenging us with their new ways. We turned out pretty darn well, and they probably will, too.

Author's Bio: 

Bonnie Price, founder of Silver Vixen Enterprises, is a lifelong entrepreneur. She owns SilverVixens, an online membership community to connect and inform Women of a Certain Age. She also writes the After 55 blog.