Employers value the benefits a multi-generational workforce can bring but many still fear that it can result in an increased risk of conflict.
New research into the UK’s age-diverse workforce which is now made up of five generations found that 66 per cent of employer respondents believed a multi-generational workforce brought more expertise and a ‘more comprehensive’ skillset to the company, while 71 per cent said it brought ‘contrasting views’.
According to audit, tax and consulting firm RSM who commissioned the YouGov research, it’s the first time since the Industrial Revolution that five generations are working together at the same time. RSM says the increase in generations working side-by-side is due to increased retirement age, stronger age discrimination laws and a financial need to stay in work due to depleting pension pots.
But the survey also revealed concerns from four in ten companies that a workforce with so many generations was at increased risk of conflict due to differing views and life experiences.
In particular, manager respondents from the baby boomer, Gen X and millennial generations said they found it easier to manage their own generation than those from others.
David Gibbens, associate director at RSM HR insisted that a multi-generational workforce doesn’t have to ‘create friction or management headaches’. Instead organisations were, on the whole, actually valuing the diversity of opinions, experience and knowledge that people of different ages can bring.
“Taking advantage of those benefits will depend on the ability of organisations to create a culture where everyone feels heard, valued and understood,” he said.
Sarah Robson, senior communications consultant at Aon, said that the growing diversity of the workforce would mean that workplace communications will need to ‘work harder and smarter’ to engage staff.
She warned that employers could be at risk of making ‘sweeping assumptions’ about the needs and preferences of different generations, especially when it came to workplace engagement and communications.
“Although you may find that millennials are more likely to engage with a light-hearted explainer video and baby boomers may prefer an in-depth face-to-face presentation, this isn’t always the case,” she said. “People are most engaged when they are treated as an individual and have the option to self-select preferred communication methods based on their own attitudes and beliefs. We are seeing clients move towards a more personalised, attitudinal segmentation strategic delivery of communications.”
The RSM research was published to coincide with RSM’s report, New forces at work – how to manage emerging people risks which sets out a series of recommendations to help businesses navigate an age-diverse workforce, including:
- Carrying out an age profile audit
- Creating an inclusive culture
- Focusing on employee engagement surveys instead of relying on generational stereotypes to understand the workforce
- Strengthening age-diverse workforce by reverse mentoring programmes and similar initiatives which help to celebrate differences
- Being alert for age discrimination.
Robson added: “Employers should ensure that they have an in-depth communications plan in place to map out messaging, segments and delivery channels to ensure people receive communications in the most engaging way for them.”
Original source: https://www.rsmuk.com/news/multi-generational-workforce-welcomed-but-with-increased-risk-of-conflict-say-employers
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