Is multigenerational workforce an asset?

Ageing population is a long-term development that has been transforming the global economy. It has been apparent for several decades in Europe and in other parts of the world. By 2050, the number of people in the European Union aged 75-84 years is projected to expand by 56.1 percent. At the same time, there will be 13.5 % fewer people aged less than 55 years living in the EU.[1] Ageing populations are rising because of the rise of life expectancy and the declining birth rates. Society is shifting.

According to the global longevity dividend in the ILC report, people are working for longer; employment rates for older people aged 50 to 69 are expected to rise from 57% in 2017 to 65% in 2035 [2]

The questions we will try to answer are many. Can one employee benefit from the other in the workplace? Are the employees’ diverse ages a bad thing?

All employees have something to contribute. Young and older workers also offer positive input with their own skills and knowledge. Leading a multigenerational team can be challenging. One must consider many aspects of the mix. Every generation acts like its own culture. Every different generation has its own sense of identity because of its different experiences.

At the present time, there are five generations co-existing at the workplace. They are defined by the year they were born. The younger generation is Gen Z (born 1997 – 2012) then come the Millennials (1981-1996), then Gen X (1965-1980) then the Boomers II (1955-1964) and Boomers I (1946-1954). They are all different in many ways. Harmony inside the company is what managers aim to reach. Collaboration between young and old can lead to a better understanding of others and avoid conflicts in the workplace. Even if they have different values, history, and experience, employees need to be part of their teams because they all represent an indispensable asset. Acknowledging age and competences can help managers understand and define each generation’s elements of motivation as well.

According to an AARP survey,[3]  older colleagues offer an opportunity to pass on their skills and knowledge to the younger colleagues (79%). Creativity at the workplace is enhanced thanks to this method (73%). And this is not the only thing that can be enhanced. Increasing training for employees across all generations is an imperative in today’s multi-generational workspace. A company has to create specific strategies to improve all areas of business based on the differences and special capabilities of each generation. 

It has also been proven that multi-generational mentoring is a powerful tool that can be used for personnel development and a company’s competitive advantage in the market. Older workers upskilling and training younger coworkers and the reverse as well, can bring huge benefits for a company. Intergenerational mixing can have an impact on cohesion too. The more diverse is a team, the more creative and productive since every task is viewed and approached by many different viewpoints and perspectives.

Each generation brings a different kind of experience, skillset, and value system into the workplace. Progress can be made only is all this knowledge is shared. There is so much they can all learn from each other. So yes, there are a lot of advantages to having a multi-generational workforce.