Today’s workforce is increasingly diverse, with people from all backgrounds becoming accepted as valuable assets to various industries. While sex, gender, and ethnicity continue to be primary markers for diversity in the workplace, age is becoming increasingly important, especially as companies find a five-generation gap between their youngest and oldest employees.
While you may think “age is just a number” in the workplace, the social norms, motivations, and challenges of different generations in the workforce can play an integral part in shaping your company’s culture. By exploring these issues with an open mind, you can find successful strategies for including all types of talent within your team and bringing out the best of your employees from all stages of life.
Benefits of A Multigenerational Workforce
The American workforce now has five generations – Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and iGen – working simultaneously across all industries. While this poses some social and professional differences, it also provides excellent benefits to your employees, such as:
Less competition – Employees of drastically different ages are often less competitive with each other because they’re in different life and career stages. This can create a more collaborative – rather than cutthroat – environment for your teams.
Mentorship opportunities – Younger generations need strong role models in their industries to show what options and possibilities lie ahead. You motivate the next generation to succeed by diversifying the ages of your staff.
Reduced turnover – As more experienced workers reach retirement age, it’s essential to partner with younger coworkers to ensure they can pass on their knowledge and experience and fill the gaps in the workplace.
Challenges of a Multigenerational Workforce
While a multigenerational workforce provides immense benefits to all workers, there are many challenges and setbacks employers face when integrating different generational mindsets and motives into one team:
Different motives and priorities – A person’s stage in life tremendously affects what motivates them in their careers and what precedence their job takes over things like family time, finances, health, and other factors. This can be challenging for supervisors and managers, who must use different tactics and offers to motivate and reward employees.
Differing social framework – It’s no surprise that different generations have different cultural norms, social circles, and interests that can influence the work environment. While all perspectives should be welcomed, it’s easy for the view of those in charge (whether younger or older) to take precedence over the team as a whole.
How to Overcome Multigenerational Employment Barriers
With these differences in mind, you can encourage partnerships between different generations by bringing out the best in your employees at the individual level. For tremendous success integrating different ages into a cohesive company team, follow these tips:
Offer mentorship programs – Mentorships can be mutually beneficial, formally or informally. For example, younger workers gain from the experience of older workers. In comparison, older workers can learn to become more technologically fluent than younger generations who grew up in the digitized world.
Motivate employees on an individual level – Rather than creating work incentives based on position, offer different benefits to different workers based on their priorities and stage in life. For example, if you have an older worker who you want to retain as they transition into a more family-oriented lifestyle, offer flexible time and better vacation benefits rather than the pay increase you would offer a younger worker.
Keep an open mind – Different generations are often pitted against each other in society, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Encourage open communication and show you value the perspectives of those who came before and after you to ensure your company can continue to thrive.
Want to learn more? Check out our workforce development programs here.