We are facing a new paradigm – the multigenerational workplace. It is possible have up to five generations working together in one workplace. In other words, the labor force is changing. People are living longer and healthier lives and can contribute for many years past traditional retirement age.

Multigenerational workplaces are often described as a problem to solve. A diverse workplace can certainly be a management challenge. However, it can also be an asset.

What do intergenerational workplaces offer?

  • A Broader Perspective – Multi-age teams draw from a range of life experience, as well as technical and interpersonal skills. Like any diverse team, multigenerational teams can collectively see a bigger picture and a wider range of solutions.
  • Continuity – Older generations pass down knowledge to newer generations. This maintains institutional knowledge within a business. Additionally, some soft skills come with experience. Older workers tend to be leaders in cultural values. These leaders pass on positive traits, like working productively and collectively.
  • Cross-mentoring – Each generation has things to offer. Cross-mentoring provides in house training. Workers of different ages possess different, but complementary skills, bringing different things to the table.
  • Innovation – When employees come from the different perspectives, there is a great opportunity for innovation and envisioning possible solutions. In contrast, age-homogeneous groups are less likely to veer from the established order. (One study called this having a larger cognitive tool box.)

Older workers bring something unique

Focusing only on certain skills or experience can limit a team. Older workers bring their own unique value and add a useful facet to a multigenerational workforce. Each generation brings differences skills and experience. When it comes to diverse, multigenerational workplace, the whole may be greater than the sum of its parts.

Want to learn more about the case for intergenerational workplaces? Check out our page on age-friendly workplaces. Changing the Narrative can also come to you. To set up a presentation or get more information, contact us.

Sara Breindel, Changing the Narrative blogger

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