The benefits of a multigenerational workforce are huge from boosting productivity and driving innovation to improving engagement with the brand.
Plus, with 70% of the UK’s employment growth over the last 30 years coming from over 50s (ONS) – and fewer young people entering the workforce due to declining birth rates and rising life expectancy – employers should consider how age inclusivity can become an essential part of their hiring and management strategy.
Having said that, the pathway to creating a thriving multigenerational workforce can present various challenges, such as the differences in preferred communication methods and the need to tackle age discrimination and stereotyping.
To help with this, we’ve pulled together 12 leadership tips for supporting a multigenerational workforce.
1. Embrace diversity
Start by acknowledging and appreciating the diverse backgrounds, experiences, perspectives, and strengths that each generation brings to the workplace.
That said, it’s important to avoid stereotyping or making generalisations about a person based on the year they were born.
Instead, take the time to identify and appreciate the unique strengths and talents of each employee, regardless of their generation. Provide regular feedback and recognition, tailored to individual preferences, to motivate and engage employees from all age groups.
Sarah Dickenson, Recruitment Manager at Fuller, Smith & Turner recently spoke to Rest Less about the organisation’s pride in its age-diverse workforce.
2. Remove age bias from hiring
To remove age bias from hiring processes in the UK, organisations can…
- Educate recruiters and hiring managers on the legal requirements outlined in the Equality Act 2010, which prohibits age discrimination.
- Review job descriptions and advertisements to make sure they’re age-neutral and focus on skills and qualifications, rather than a specific number of years of experience.
- Implement blind recruitment techniques, such as removing age-related information (photos, birth dates etc) from CVs and cover letters.
- Use structured interviews with standardised questions to assess candidates based on merit.
- Diversify interview panels to include individuals from a range of age groups.
- Monitor and analyse hiring data to identify any potential age bias and take further steps to resolve it.
3. Promote inclusivity and respect
Foster an inclusive and respectful work environment where individuals from all generations feel valued and appreciated. Encourage open dialogue, active listening, empathy, and respect for diverse viewpoints among team members to foster understanding and collaboration.
It’s important that all generations feel comfortable expressing their ideas, concerns, and suggestions. This will encourage a culture where conflict leads to growth and innovation, rather than frustration and team divides.
4. Create a culture of lifelong learning
Offer training and development programs that address the specific needs and aspirations of different generations.
This may include mentoring, job rotations, or skill-building workshops. Tailor these opportunities to accommodate different learning styles and preferences.
Assumptions about an employee’s desire to learn and progress also shouldn’t be made based on age. For example, an older employee may still wish to work towards promotions and have the option to have a mentor, rather than simply becoming a mentor themselves.
5. Provide opportunities for cross-generational collaboration
Create opportunities for employees across generations to work together on projects, teams, or initiatives.
Encourage knowledge sharing, where mature employees can pass on their expertise, while younger employees bring fresh perspectives and technological skills.
6. Make technology accessible to all employees
Many companies risk losing valuable employees from older generations due to false stereotyping about their inability to keep up with technological trends – or by forcing them to navigate inaccessible, poorly created, and/or potentially confusing digital tools.
Employers can help to attract and retain workers from all generations by remaining open-minded; investing in accessible, tried and tested digital tools; and offering adequate tech training. This will also boost employee productivity and engagement.
7. Offer flexible working arrangements
Recognise that different generations may have different expectations regarding work-life balance and flexibility.
Offer flexible work arrangements, such as flexible hours, remote work options, or compressed workweeks, whenever feasible. This demonstrates your commitment to accommodating diverse needs.
Mark Hassan-Ali, People Director from N Family Club recently spoke to Rest Less about what his organisation is doing to provide flexible working conditions for its employees…
8. Communicate effectively
Tailor your communication strategies to accommodate different preferences and communication styles. Some employees may prefer face-to-face interactions, while others may be more comfortable with digital platforms.
Adapt your approach to ensure clear and effective communication across generations.
9. Lead by example
Demonstrate inclusive leadership behaviours by embracing diversity and treating employees from all generations fairly and respectfully.
Model open-mindedness, adaptability, and a willingness to learn from others. Encourage managers and supervisors to do the same.
10. Recognise and reward achievements
Implement a recognition and rewards system that appreciates and acknowledges the accomplishments of employees from all generations. Tailor recognition methods to suit individual preferences and generational expectations.
Consider how you can reward employees who are interested in lateral progression – not just those who are working on climbing the career ladder.
11. Stay adaptable
Keep up with evolving workplace trends and technologies. Be open to adopting new tools, processes, and strategies that cater to the changing needs and expectations of your multigenerational workforce.
In the clip below, Deborah Mills, CEO at Now Teach, discusses how her organisation is paving the way in creating more flexible, condensed versions of teacher training that may be more attractive to later life career changers..
12. Customise your employee benefits
Workplace benefits will appeal differently to people, depending on what stage of life they’re in. For example, phased retirement options might appeal to baby boomers, while Gen X may be more concerned with what childcare support options are available.
If you want to find out more about the benefits of creating an age-diverse workforce, you can read more in our article on the subject.
What steps is your organisation taking to support a multigenerational workforce? Did you find any of the tips above particularly helpful? We’d love to hear from you. Let us know in the comments below.