pros and cons of a multigenerational workforce.

According to the Q2 2018 Randstad Workmonitor, 85% of the 400 employees and job seekers in Singapore said that they are already working in a multigenerational team. Despite this, we know that many companies still find it a challenge to manage the dynamics of a multigenerational workforce.

As there is no one-size-fits all solution, employers need to have a higher level of awareness of the pros and cons of a multigenerational workforce. For a start, employers need to take time to understand the different characteristics, career motivators and aspirations of the various generations in the workforce.

Companies that can leverage these differences will be able to bring out the best in their people, build a healthy talent pipeline and ensure sustainable business growth.


4 generations in the workplace:

Today’s multigenerational workforce is made up of the following groups of people:¹
  • Born between 1925 and 1945: Pre-Boomers, who are also known as the Silent Generation or Traditionalists
  • Born between 1946 and 1965: Baby Boomers
  • Born between 1965 and 1976: Generation X 
  • Born between 1977 and 1994: Generation Y who are also known as the Millennials

The labour market will soon welcome a new emerging group of young talent called Generation Z (known as the ‘iGeneration’), who are born from 1995 onwards.


benefits of a multigenerational workforce:

1.  it drives innovation

83% of the respondents in Singapore said that thanks to an age-diverse team, they are able to come up with more innovative ideas and solutions. Younger people have greater exposure to digitalisation and innovation, and are therefore more open to embracing new technology and agile ways of working. Mature professionals, on the other hand, can share their knowledge and industry experience with the younger staff, and help guide their ideas to achieve practical business objectives.

By encouraging such open collaboration, teams are empowered to co-create initiatives that combine past learnings with new innovation for greater efficiency.

2. it builds a healthy talent pipeline

Companies that tap into the wide range of knowledge, ideas and unique strengths from each generation will have the distinct advantage of having a future-ready workforce. In the long-run, a strong internal talent pipeline helps companies reduce hiring costs and focus more on talent development programmes for more internal promotion opportunities.

3. it promotes the sharing of best practices and different perspectives

Experienced professionals are extremely valuable to the business as they have acquired a tremendous wealth of knowledge and skills throughout their career. They play an instrumental role in the career development of younger employees by sharing their knowledge and experience that take years to acquire. Younger executives can learn to have a strong commercial acumen and develop effective business strategies.

There is also an increasing trend of ‘reverse mentoring’, which means that mature employees are being mentored by younger staff on technology, social media and current trends.²

The more people interact with each other in the office, the more they can understand and learn from each other’s insights, perspectives and ideas. Companies that foster an engaging and collaborative multigenerational working environment are likely to gain a competitive advantage in talent attraction.


challenges of managing multigenerational teams: different working & communication styles

44% of the respondents in the same study said that they find it difficult to communicate with co-workers who are not from their age group. This is hardly surprising, considering the distinct differences in the preferred communication tools, style and tone between the different generations. In addition, new and emerging communication channels, such as Twitter and Skype, have only made it more challenging for people to communicate and align with each other.

The best way to get around these differences is to have an open and empathetic mindset. This means learning to accept opinions that are different from yours, having friendly debates and evaluating issues objectively by looking at the facts and data.

Avoid making any ill-informed remarks or jumping into conclusions before hearing each other out. Instead, learn to communicate in the style and manner the other person prefers. When working in a multigenerational environment, it is critical to respect your co-workers, no matter what their age is.

To download a copy of the Randstad Workmonitor Q2 2018 global report about the impact of a multigenerational workforce, please click here.


references:

  1. How to Manage a Multigenerational Workforce and Not Go Totally Insane. Huffington Post.
  2. What is reverse mentoring? Techopedia.
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