Today’s managers and business owners face the challenge of having multiple generations in one workplace. Though this situation requires skillful handling, it also presents opportunities for those businesses that get it right. In fact, experts say the benefits of hiring and retaining people from all age groups vastly outweigh the challenges.
There are five generations in the job market and workforce: traditionalists or the silent generation, baby boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z. This means there are people between the ages of 18 to 70 competing for jobs and working together. Some managers shudder at the thought of supposedly technophobic older people and disloyal college grads occupying the same space.
However, many prevailing views about the various generations are merely stereotypes. Far from being riddled with conflict, multigenerational teams can add significant value to organizations. Age diversity brings different values, ethics, skillsets, and work styles to the workplace. Furthermore, studies show that drawing talent from all age groups is key to business success in a competitive global marketplace.
A blend of younger and older workers presents several advantages, including:
- Increased innovation. Younger people are often more open to embracing new concepts and ways of working, especially where digital technology is concerned. Meanwhile, mature employees have specialist knowledge and life experiences that can be used to guide their younger coworkers. Collaboration leads to new, practical ideas.
- More diverse talent. When leaders think about diversity and inclusion, they often center their efforts around race or gender. The focus on age diversity and age inclusion is relatively new. Companies that embrace people from all generations benefit from the unique knowledge and strengths of the various age groups.
- Increased learning and teaching opportunities. The more diverse the team, the more opportunities people have to interact with others who are different. This allows for both formal and informal mentoring. Younger employers can bring their older counterparts up to speed on current trends, while mature workers can offer advice on career development, interpersonal skills, and more.
Building an age-diverse workforce starts at the recruitment phase. Unfortunately, many people over the age of 50 find it hard to get work, largely as a result of age-related biases that may be unconscious. When recruiters and hiring managers move past stereotypes and judge employees based on their skills and qualifications, they open the door for greater productivity and profitability.
Companies often assume that mature workers will ask for higher salaries or more benefits, and they sideline them for this reason. However, according to Sarah Gibson, a speaker, author, and expert on changing generations in the workforce, it’s unwise to pre-judge candidates. Instead, she recommends setting the salary and letting candidates decide whether it’s enough for them.
There’s also something to be said for understanding what each generation is likely to be looking for in a job. For many baby boomers and members of the silent generation and baby boomers, work doesn’t necessarily need to be fun. However, millennials and Gen Z typically want to be passionate about their work, and they seek to self-actualize on the job. These differences should be considered during the onboarding process.
Once the workers are hired, they need to be carefully managed so they can thrive in their respective roles. Managers need to understand not just how each generation thinks but how each person thinks. While there are certain things that people of the same generation have in common, each individual has their own unique experiences, values, needs, and goals.
While baby boomers may prefer more traditional leadership arrangements and Generation X prefers to work independently, not each member of these generations will be the same. Therefore, they may be a recent college grad who would rather report to one particular leader and a boomer who enjoys collaborative groups just like a millennial.
Also, there are some things that all workers want, such as respect, appreciation, and flexibility. Many managers find that there are actually more similarities than differences between workers when building multigenerational teams. Simply talking to your employees can help you to build a workplace in which employees are happy and productive.
As the population ages and birth rates slow, there will be more older people looking to gain or retain employment. At the same time, there will always be younger workers looking to make their mark. Understanding the various needs of these individuals can be difficult, but it is by no means impossible. Furthermore, you don’t have the navigate the new normal alone.
The team at WiseForce Advisors can help you to analyze your existing policies and practices and determine how you can build multigenerational teams that generate the best possible outcomes. Contact us today at email@example.com to schedule a consultation.