Why Having a Multigenerational Workforce Can Benefit Your Business

There is strength in diversity. That statement holds true for all of society, and it holds true for the business world, as well. Having a workforce that is racially diverse and made up of different genders and orientations makes not only for a more socially interesting place to work, it actually also makes for a stronger business! But when we talk about diversity in the workplace, there’s one type of difference that we often overlook: age. We talk about multicultural workplaces, but we don’t often talk about multigenerational workplaces, and that could be a mistake. And not because you could be opening yourself up to an ageism lawsuit, but because limiting yourself to a younger population at work could mean missing out on the benefits of a multigenerational workforce. So how could having a range of ages working for your business benefit you?

The Benefits of a Multigenerational Workforce group of employees

We’re involved in the workforce at an interesting and unprecedented time: it’s possible to be working somewhere or running a business where up to 5 generations of employees are present! From Boomers to Gen Zers, there is a wide range of ages getting down to business these days; the problem is that we often view this diversity as a hindrance to growth. Surely older workers will slow others down, or there will be intergenerational tension, right? Wrong. 

In fact, according to a Harvard Business white paper, “Each of these five generations is vastly different, but research shows that these differences have very little impact on the way we act or what motivates us at work.” And we’ll go a step further: most research – and real world examples – show us that having a multigenerational workforce can actually lead to greater productivity and growth. How? Consider the following benefits of having an age-diverse employee population: 

Gives Businesses a Solid Pipeline of Talent

It makes sense: widen your recruitment efforts, and look at a wider range of candidates, and you’ll have a more solid pipeline of talent available to you. Reevaluating the way you recruit so you can attract employees from all generations means you’ll end up expanding the talent pool available for you to fill open positions, and tapping into unreached areas. 

Not only that, but if you make the effort to retain the older members of your workforce, you’ll be able to keep up a level of productivity and institutional knowledge that are expensive and difficult to replace. After all, how can you bring up a new generation of workers without the help and knowledge of those who have come before them? 

Increases innovation and creativity

gears with a red arrow pointing upward
Having wide range of employees can help increase innovation and company culture.

Younger workers get all the credit for having new, fresh ideas, but there’s also something else they have: less experience. So they might be able to bring the goods when it comes to new approaches and current trends, but older workers can bring a more measured approach based on strategies that have worked in the past, and the balance between these things can end up being a beautiful thing.

That’s not to say that older workers shouldn’t be given the opportunity to innovate. In fact, when everyone on a team has the freedom and support to share diverse opinions and ideas, it creates an energetic environment that utilizes the strengths of everyone at the table, whether those strengths are wisdom and experience, or a daring new approach. In one survey, 83% of workers said that they are able to come up with more innovative ideas and solutions because they work in an age-diverse team! So if you’ve got a workforce made up of all generations, you could find yourself with new products/services, improved processes, and interesting strategies that result in business growth

Enhances company culture

Did you know that 46% of job candidates believe culture is very important in the application process, with a grand total of 88% of job seekers citing it as at least of relative importance? The culture at a business is also important for retention: employees who don’t like their organization’s culture are 24% more likely to quit. Not only that but a whopping 88% of employees believe that a strong company culture is key to a business’ success. 

Employees’ opinions aside, a positive work culture is linked to higher rates of employee engagement, which has been shown to improve productivity and profitability. So what does this have to do with an age-diverse team? When companies have employees with a diverse range of ages, experience, knowledge and tenure, it can dramatically enhance the culture. After all, people with varying perspectives, backgrounds and life experiences help to create an energized workforce that builds/nurtures relationships and learns from each other.

Supports succession planning

We’ve seen a whole lot of people do a whole lot of quitting over the last few years. But the “Great Resignation” aside, losing employees is always a fact of life, and you’ve got to be ready for it! That can include leveraging the skills of the older employees that you have on your team. While some employers might see having older workers as a problem (since they are closer to retirement age), you should actually see it as a competitive advantage. You just need to properly leverage workers’ institutional knowledge, experience, skill sets, and strengths by encouraging cross-generational mentoring.

If you’ve got a multigenerational workforce, you’ll have built-in training opportunities, which will enable you to promote from within. That’s always a good thing, since employees familiar with your business and its culture will be more ready to fit right into their new roles. In addition, when employees have opportunities to advance, it leads to increased retention and less turnover, which can save you a whole lot of money.

Can affect your brand

Sometimes you want to look young and hip, and sometimes you need customers to see you as experienced, knowledgeable, and well-established. Having more seasoned workers in the mix can help you to put your best foot forward in certain situations; not only that, but being seen as an inclusive, diverse, and professional place of business could take you even further.  

How to Make It Work

Let’s go back to the benefits listed above. They are very real, and they are things that you could be easily taking advantage of – but you’ve got to get there! So the following are a few notes on creating an age-diverse workforce, and making it work for your business. 

Think about how you recruit and retain employeeshiring process with a person under a light and paperwork around

If you want a more age-diverse workforce, the first thing you’ve got to do is find that more age-diverse workforce, right? That means reevaluating your recruitment efforts: you need to update your job descriptions with language that appeals to everyone, and look for different avenues of recruitment. 

Bring employees together

Like we said, watching your employees collaborate and innovate is a beautiful thing. But how can you get them to this point? One way is to try a “reverse mentoring” programming, in which younger employees pair with older employees to share their ideas. This shouldn’t simply be the younger folks schooling the older ones on tech topics and social media trends, and it certainly shouldn’t ever feel patronizing; on the contrary, it should be a two-way street, with those paired together offering both of their perspectives, making the learning a mutual experience. 

Remember, while younger employees might know more about tech and trends, “Seasoned employees have a lot more to teach junior employees about business intuition,” says Aaron Harvey, executive creative director at Ready Set Rocket. “Business is much more than trends and technology. It’s applied intuition that takes years of experience to develop.”

Work on leadership and communication

Some surveys show that employees of different ages sometimes find it difficult to communicate with coworkers outside of their age group. This should come as no surprise, but it doesn’t have to be that way. With that being said, an environment where people with a wide range of perspectives working to their mutual benefit, and the benefit of your business, doesn’t happen by accident – it begins with leadership.

According to Dennis Collins, senior director of marketing at West Unified Communications Services, you need to “Establish a solid understanding of who makes up your staff and the different dynamics at play,” and you shouldn’t be afraid to open the lines of communication in a respectful way. “Having an open and candid conversation about the benefits that come from a multigenerational workforce makes everyone feel more comfortable voicing their needs and concerns,” says Collins.

Don’t focus on one age group

It kind of feels like we’re spending all of our time focusing on the needs of one group of employees – often the younger generations. We want to make sure we’re speaking their language, and adopting the tools they prefer, but this can be a big mistake. Again according to Collins, “Ignoring the needs of any group of people in a company will result in a drop in productivity and unhappy employees.” So don’t worry about keeping up with every single latest trend; think more about looking for what works in your current culture, and make sure everyone feels spoken to and included. 

If you’ve got an age-diverse team at your business, you don’t have a problem on your hands – on the contrary, you could be sitting on a gold mine! And if you’re looking around and seeing a lot of fresh faces, but not a lot of diversity of viewpoint, you might want to reconsider your recruitment process, and add the spice of age into your workplace. But remember, to make the most out of a multigenerational workforce, and to get all of the benefits we laid out above, you need to be the right kind of leader, and work on bringing people together so the sparks of innovation can fly. Just follow our tips above, and you’ll get there in no time – and we want to hear about your experiences with an age-diverse team!

Seniors: Want to Jump Back into the Job Market? Now’s Your Chance!

Retirement can be great, but it’s not for everyone. Some people just thrive on the sense of purpose or the social engagement that being in the workforce gives them – and the extra money to fund the fun stuff in life doesn’t hurt, either! In fact, if you’re at retirement age, or heading there soon, and are still working or want to work, you are very much not alone. Just consider these stats:

  • A 2019 survey found that 27% of respondents who were currently planning their retirement planned to work at least part-time later in life, and of those who were already retired, 19% were working part-time.
  • In 2014, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported that approximately 40% of those aged 55 and over were working or actively looking for work. That number was predicted to grow by the end of 2024 to 41 million people over the age of 55 (with 13 million in that group over the age of 65) engaged in the labor force.
  • The U.S. Census Bureau reported that in 2015, there were 4.6 million men and 3.7 million women in the labor force who were over 65 years old. A total of 5.3 million full-time workers were 65 or older.

So does all this mean that having a side gig is the new retirement? Maybe: it all depends on what you want out of your golden years. But if you’d like to spend some of your free time in retirement getting back out there, now is a great time! Let’s look at why, and how you can start the search for something that’s right for this chapter of your life. 

The Great Resignation

older man working with wood
Seniors now have more of an opportunity to get back in the workforce if they wanted to.

We’ve often heard (or experienced) that finding a new job when you’re of a certain age can be tough. Unfortunately, agesim is still a major issue in our society; some employers have been unwilling to see past age, and see instead the valuable experience older employees have to offer. 

But there’s something going on that might actually be turning that on its head: the so-called “Great Resignation” that started during the Covid-19 pandemic could be the opportunity that older job seekers need to give them a leg up. According to Kerry Hannon, author and career expert, “It is a fantastic time for someone over 45 or over 50 to get back in the market. Employers are grappling with finding workers who have experience that can hit the ground running. They’ve been going for a bunch of months now without filling positions that they really need.”

Just how great is this Great Resignation? An average of 3.98 million people quit their jobs every month in 2021, and numbers out of the BLS from January of this year showed a record-breaking number of people quitting their jobs in November of 2021. 4.5 million people, or around 3% of workers, walked off the job that month. And even if things are leveling off, job resignations are still up 23% above pre-pandemic levels, and employers are looking to fill the over 11 million vacancies in the job market. In fact, they’re scrambling to bring in workers by offering better working conditions: for example, employers in the private sector have raised hourly pay by about 5% in the past year, according to federal data.s

All of this is good news for anyone who wants to get back into the job market. So if you’re an older job seeker itching to take advantage of these opportunities, how should you get started? 

Starting Your Job Search

You’ve got enthusiasm, experience, and wisdom – now you just need to get yourself out there! Try the following tips, geared especially towards all of you more mature candidates.

1. Let Employers Find You Online

If you’re interested in getting back out there, the first thing you need to do is let employers know you’re looking – and these days, that means heading to LinkedIn and creating a profile. LinkedIn is buzzing with activity these days with all of the employers looking for candidates, so if you’re looking for a more skilled or professional position, this is a great place to start. 

You might think that the world of social media automatically puts older adults at a disadvantage, but with a professional site like LinkedIn, you’ll have an advantage: you have lots of experience and lots of different facets of your life to put in your profile. Make sure you highlight all of this, so employers can see the full package that they’ll get if they hire you!

2. Find Employers Online

Once you’ve gotten yourself out there in the digital world, stay online and check out some job search websites to see if there are any openings that appeal to you. You can look at some general sites, like Indeed, or you can also head to some senior-specific sites, like:

  • Retirementjobs.com
  • Rent a Grandma (specializes in work for nannies, caregivers, chefs, house care helpers, pet sitters, tutors and personal assistants)
  • Seniors4Hire
  • Workforce50.com
  • AARP Job Board
  • SecondAct Work
  • Jobs 4.0

3. Refresh Your Skills

blue button with the refresh icon
Try refreshing your skills so you can succeed in the ever-changing markets.

They say you should never stop learning, right? Taking some time to learn some new skills (or brush up on what you already know) is always a good idea, but it’s especially important if you’re looking to get back into the job market. Try an online class in a new technological skill, or even checking out a local community college – many have low-cost tuition for older adults. You can update your computer skills or knowledge about technology, and while you’re at it, any other skills you may want to update.

4. Get Back into Networking

In addition to all of your experience and wisdom, you’ve also got the advantage of having a lot of contacts, so check back in with them to see if anyone is hiring or knows someone who is. And even if you already have a pretty big network, you can always expand it. Consider joining (or rejoining) a professional organization in your field, or attending a conference with someone who’s still in the workforce. And don’t forget about getting on LinkedIn!

5. Consider Fast-Growing Fields

Not married to a job in any one particular field? Then familiarize yourself with the fastest growing job markets, where you’re most likely to be welcomed as a valuable addition. For example, looking for positions in the health care, social services, and hospitality industries, just to name a few, could mean better odds of getting your foot in the door.

6. Try Temping or Volunteering

If you’re having trouble landing exactly what you want, or are looking to start slow or small, consider temping or volunteering. Temping is an easy way to brush off your skills and ease yourself back into work if you’re a little rusty, and you’ll be making a little money while you do it. Volunteering is also a great idea: while you won’t be earning anything, you will be getting the pick-me-up of doing something you care about, while also gaining skills and meeting contacts

If you’ve reached retirement age, nobody is going to blame you for wanting to take some time to go lie on a beach (or in a hammock, or on your couch) for a while (or forever) and just relax. You’ve spent a long time in the rat race! But if you find the calm of retired life just isn’t for you, and you decide you want to get back out there, we’re all for that, too – and now is a great time! Employers need people like you, and would be lucky to have the benefit of your years of experience, so if you’re curious what’s out there, take a look. You might just find your second act!