For the first time ever, employers can theoretically have five generations working alongside one another. Age ain’t nothing but a number, so that’s a good thing, right?
Most employers would say they are looking for as diverse a workforce as possible. This is because we all know that with greater diversity comes improved productivity, increased creativity, enhanced communication and a more positive company overall. And there’s nothing quite as diverse as having staff members aged between 18 and 80 years working for you.
The five generations in question are: the Traditionalists aka the Pre-Boomers (1925-1945); the Baby Boomers (1946-1964); Generation X (1965-1976); Generation Y aka the Millennials (1977-1994); and Generation Z (1995+). But what are the implications of managing the needs and expectations of such a varied group of individuals?
The potential for negative stereotyping is one thing all multi-generational employers should be ready for. On one hand, older employees may see younger colleagues as overly entitled, digitally-obsessed or insubordinate. While on the flip side, younger employees may see older generations as being stuck in their ways or hard to train. The key for managers is to overcome any biases of their own and help those around them to see the benefits of a multi-generational team.
Here are six advantages of building an age-diverse workforce within your business.
Different generations are seen to have differing approaches to the way they work. Younger generations may display more instantaneous reactions and thought processes, while older generations may be more measured in how they react to situations. Driven by either enthusiasm or experience, both these perspectives have a place in today’s workplaces and can benefit one another.
A more diverse skillset
In the same way that age diversity brings a wide range of viewpoints, it also brings a wide range of skills to the workplace. Every company needs the right balance of digital, communication, negotiation, problem-solving and leadership skills and an age-diverse workforce will bring all of those – and many more.
A happier workforce
According to a survey conducted by fast food chain McDonald’s, multi-generational teams are 10% happier than teams consisting of same-aged peers. Whatever the industry, a happier team means a more motivated, engaged workforce.
Double the development opportunities
The wider the age range within the workplace, the greater the opportunity for development. The enthusiasm of younger workers to try new things can be built upon to create a wider culture of innovation across the board. At the same time, older staff members can share their experience of the industry and offer advice on key skills to younger colleagues. By developing a co-mentoring scheme within the workplace – such as a buddy system – staff have more opportunity to share their knowledge.
Enhanced customer experience
When dealing with customers, a mix of personalities and ages is proven to get the best results. Older customers in particular feel a greater sense of connection with a company when dealing with an older member of staff face to face. Equally, a younger team member may bring a more dynamic element to a team of older employees. Fundamentally, managers are always looking for the best person to fill a role (regardless of age) who can give the customer what they want.
Any workforce that is predominantly made up from one particular age group runs a risk of becoming obsolete. The tradition of older workers passing on knowledge and experience to younger colleagues still stands. It is important to pass on the company’s history – as well as key skills and expertise – in the interest of business continuity. When a company has too many younger employees or too many older employees, that opportunity is lost.
Employers need to be creative and courageous in how they tackle recruitment and identify what works best for the business. Employee life stages are becoming more defined in the workplace and present a progressive and inclusive recruitment strategy.
Here at Lucy Bristow we like to cast aside generational stereotypes and tap into the ever-expanding talent pool. Why not talk to the team today to see what opportunities we have on offer?