Recently, we spoke about how a multi-generational workforce can lead to business growth – and one reason for this is that it can boost productivity.
More and more organisations are finding out that bringing different generations together in the workplace can improve efficiency. Take this report published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), which revealed that a company with a share of older workers 10% above average was 1.1% more productive.
But why exactly is a multi-generational team more productive? Below, we look at some of the reasons…
1. Age diversity improves idea generation
One of the biggest benefits of a multigenerational workforce is that it brings a wider range of perspectives to the table – which can have a positive effect on your company’s ability to generate ideas.
In 2018, The Boston Consulting Group surveyed 1700 companies from around the world and gave them a diversity score based on factors like age, gender, and ethnicity. They found that the companies with above-average diversity scores reported 19% more revenue through innovation than those with below-average scores.
It might seem obvious, but our ability to generate ideas has a significant impact on our productivity levels – because the less time we spend coming up with them, the more time we can spend putting them into action.
2. Age diversity improves decision-making
Effective decision-making skills are vital for a productive team. Spending too long choosing between options can take up unnecessary time that would be better spent on something else. But making the wrong decision might mean that even more time is wasted later on.
So what can you do to boost your company’s decision-making skills? After all, it’s not something you can simply learn from a textbook. According to this study by the leading Decision Intelligence platform, Cloverpop, you can give your company an edge by building a more age-diverse team.
The study found that decision-making improves as diversity increases – and that teams with a wide range of ages make better business decisions 87% of the time.
3. Age diversity improves employee retention
Employers have certainly become more aware of ageist hiring practices in the past few years, and we’ve witnessed many working to make their teams more age-diverse. However, discriminatory recruitment is still prevalent in the UK and beyond.
One reason that’s often cited by employers for not investing in later-life talent is the belief that older workers are less likely to stay in roles for as long as younger ones. However, this is a bias that’s been disproven by research.
In fact, the OECD found that employee turnover is actually 4% lower at companies with a share of older workers 10% above average. So, by developing age-inclusive hiring policies and investing in a truly multi-generational team, you can improve your company’s retention rate – which can improve productivity.
The reason for this is that recruiting can be costly – not just financially, but when it comes to time too. Hours spent on tasks like reading CVs and conducting interviews can cut into employees’ work time, causing productivity to take a hit. By reducing employee turnover, you can free up workers to spend time on other tasks, therefore boosting the productivity of your workplace.
And finally, when you do have to recruit (because turnover is inevitable, no matter what strategies we put in place), opening your company up to potential employees of all ages will give you a wider pool of candidates. This means you’re more likely to find a suitable candidate faster – saving more time and money.
4. Age diversity encourages mentor/mentee relationships
The OECD research mentioned above – which found that a share of older workers 10% above average increased productivity by 1.1% – concluded that nearly half of this increase was due to older workers making younger ones more productive.
A key reason for this is that a multi-generational workplace encourages the sharing of knowledge through mentor/mentee relationships.
For example, older workers tend to have many years of life and professional experience under their belt. This means they can act as fruitful sources of advice and industry-specific knowledge for younger, less experienced workers – which can help to boost their productivity.
However, these relationships aren’t a one-way street and, as the OECD findings demonstrate, older employees can also reap the benefits of working with younger ones.
For example, as ‘digital natives’ (people who’ve grown up in the age of the internet), younger workers may be more adept at some aspects of technology (like using social media). This know-how can be shared with older workers to boost their productivity too.
Plus, the mentor/mentee relationships that open up when sharing skills and knowledge can give both parties a confidence boost, which studies have shown can make workers more productive.
5. Fostering a multi-generational team can improve company culture
Another reason why fostering a multi-generational workforce can boost productivity is that it improves company culture.
According to research conducted by Quantum Workplace, employees who perceive their company culture as positive are 3.8 times more likely to be engaged at work – and the more engaged employees are, the more productive they are.
But company culture is a difficult concept to define, so it can be tricky to understand how exactly fostering a multigenerational workforce improves it. The truth is, it does in many ways, but one of the most prominent is that it creates a sense of belonging for your employees.
For example, if some age groups in your company are under-represented, then the members of that age group may feel like they don’t belong. And since studies have shown that a sense of belonging is one of the strongest drivers of employee engagement (even more than things like trust in leadership and ability for career growth), this could have a negative impact on their productivity.
Creating a sense of belonging for all workers is one of any employer’s most important responsibilities. By building a diverse team and implementing inclusive practices (not only when it comes to age, but also gender, ethnicity, etc), you can help your employees to feel at home – and benefit from higher productivity as a bonus!
From reducing employee turnover to encouraging mentor/mentee relationships, there are various reasons why a multi-generational workforce can boost productivity.
To help your company reap the powerful benefits of age diversity, take a look at our section for employers. Here, you’ll find a range of articles, such as 5 tips for creating age-inclusive job adverts to 10 benefits of age-inclusive apprenticeships.
Are you creating an age-diverse team at your company? If so, what benefits have you noticed? We’d love to hear from you in the comments below.