Brexit-related uncertainties, skills shortages, and evolving workplace dynamics are just a few of the reasons why UK employers are facing hiring challenges in 2023.
However, taking steps to make organisations more age-inclusive could be the solution. In fact, a recent study revealed that nine out of 10 professionals believe a multigenerational workforce contributes to the success of a business.
While more employers are recognising the benefits of a multi-generational workforce and taking steps to make their organisations more diverse and inclusive – plenty are yet to do this.
In fact, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development’s Inclusion at Work 2022 report found that just under half (47%) of employers don’t have an inclusion and diversity strategy or action plan in place.
Sadly, our analysis of Tribunal Statistics from the Ministry of Justice also revealed that there were 3,668 complaints of age discrimination made to tribunals in 2020, which was up by 74% from 2019. And this is happening at a time when unemployment and redundancies among over-50s are soaring.
So what does a multigenerational workforce look like? And how exactly could your company benefit?
What is a multigenerational workforce?
A multi-generational workforce refers to a work environment where employees from different generations work together collaboratively.
Due to our ageing population and shifting attitudes towards retirement, it’s now common for organisations to have employees spanning five different generation groups, which are…
- The Silent or Traditionalist Generation (born 1928-1945)
- Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964)
- Generation X (born 1965-1980)
- Millennials (born 1981-1996)
- Generation Z (born 1997-2012)
This means that you could easily have someone who’s just left school working alongside someone in their 70s or 80s – with each bringing unique perspectives, experiences, skills, and work styles to the company.
What are the benefits of a multigenerational workforce?
The benefits of a multigenerational workforce are huge. And with almost all population growth in the next 20 years predicted to be from older workers, there’s never been a better time to consider why age diversity and inclusivity should be a top priority in business.
For example, having a multigenerational workforce can…
Drive creativity, innovation, and problem-solving
The varied backgrounds and experiences in a multigenerational workforce foster a culture of learning, collaboration, and open-mindedness.
For example, younger employees often have fresh ideas, technological proficiency, and a willingness to challenge the status quo. They may bring a new perspective and embrace innovative approaches.
Mature employees, on the other hand, have accumulated knowledge, wisdom, and years of industry experience. They may offer valuable insights, guidance, and critical thinking based on their past encounters.
This dynamic environment can spark creativity, encourage the exchange of ideas, and prompt out-of-the-box thinking – all of which can enhance innovation and generate solutions to complex problems.
A 2020 OECD report found that the experience of older workers can help younger workers perform better, thereby boosting their productivity directly and indirectly.
Plus, it revealed that for every 10% share of older workers, productivity increases by 1.1.%.
We recently chatted with Kim Chaplain, Specialist Advisor at Centre for Ageing Better who also highlighted this key research…
Improve an organisation’s adaptability and flexibility
Each generation has faced unique societal and technological changes. This means that a multigenerational workforce is better equipped to adapt to shifting market dynamics, technological advancements, and evolving customer expectations.
Different generations’ collective experiences and skills can enable organisations to respond quickly to change and seize new opportunities.
Increase employee engagement and retention
Embracing generational diversity fosters an inclusive work environment where employees feel valued and respected. This promotes higher levels of employee engagement, job satisfaction, and retention.
Multigenerational teams also provide a large and varied pool of talent, which can help to reduce hiring costs. Having a solid talent pipeline means that resources can be focused on in-house training and development, creating more opportunities for employee growth, development, and promotion.
Encourage unique relationships, which enhances company culture
Multigenerational workforces encourage collaboration and teamwork across generations.
As employees interact and engage with colleagues from different age groups, they develop a deeper appreciation for each other’s strengths, skills, and contributions. This collaborative spirit builds relationships, breaks down stereotypes, and cultivates a sense of unity and shared purpose.
Companies that are able to facilitate the formation of unique relationships in this way gain a competitive advantage in attracting both young and mature talent – which can be particularly helpful when facing hiring challenges.
Mark Hassan-Ali is People Director at N Family Club and he touched on these benefits in our recent webinar.
Provide learning/mentoring opportunities
Mature employees often have extensive industry knowledge and experience, which they can share with younger generations to foster learning and professional development.
This knowledge transfer preserves valuable insights and best practices within the organisation, leading to improved decision-making and operational efficiency.
Providing learning and mentoring opportunities also helps with employee retention and engagement – as some employees may enjoy the rewards that come with helping someone to further their career, while others may stick around longer if they’re given opportunities to develop new skills and knowledge.
Improve customer service and engagement with the brand
A multigenerational workforce mirrors the diversity of the customer base, enabling better understanding and engagement with customers from different generations.
This can lead to improved customer service, tailored marketing strategies, and more relevant products or services – enhancing overall customer satisfaction and loyalty.
“We’ve been around for a long time so our customers are made up of multiple generations and we believe it’s so important to represent our customers through the people who work in our pubs and hotels.”
– SARAH DICKINSON, RECRUITMENT MANAGER AT FULLER, SMITH & TURNER
Challenges of hiring and managing a multigenerational workforce
Fostering a workplace that empowers every employee regardless of age can come with challenges – but as we’ve seen so far, the benefits are certainly worth it.
One of the best ways to get on the front foot when it comes to implementing greater diversity and inclusivity within your organisation is to be aware of potential bumps in the road and how to fix them.
Three common challenges include…
Stereotypes and discrimination
Unfortunately, age discrimination and stereotypes are something that people from all generations can be subject to – often through subtle microaggressions that are often overlooked.
For example, older colleagues may be labelled as ‘overqualified’ or not ‘tech savvy’ and refused work, while younger colleagues may be belittled or have comments made about their lack of experience.
Different generations might be more familiar with or have a preference for certain modes of communication.
But, with so many methods now available (phone, email, instant messaging, face-to-face meetings, and video calls), it’s easy for two people to miscommunicate if they’re sharing information in a way that isn’t valued by the other person.
Differing priorities and expectations
Our priorities often shift as we move through life and this can impact workplace expectations.
For example, some colleagues might be looking for career development and/or more responsibility; while others might see flexibility and work-life balance as most important.
Therefore, in order to create a harmonious workplace for all, managers should take steps to understand what motivates employees at each stage of their careers.
With organisations struggling to hire talent and almost all population growth predicted to be from older workers in the next 20 years, there’s never been a better time to unlock the potential of a multigenerational workforce.
From driving creativity, innovation, and problem-solving to improving customer service and engagement with your brand, there are powerful benefits to having a diverse and inclusive team.
And while Rome wasn’t built in a day, it’s important for businesses to start taking measured steps to prepare for the multigenerational workforce of the future.
To help with this, you might want to read our 12 leadership tips for supporting a multigenerational workforce. For more information, you can also email us at [email protected] or get in touch here.
Do you promote age diversity at your organisation? What benefits have you seen? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.