The Case for Age Diversity: How to Blend Experience with Youth to Benefit an Organization
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The 2015 Hollywood comedy ‘the Intern’ interestingly captured the story of a retired top executive seeking an internship program at a new wave startup. His gradual assimilation into a predominantly young technology-based organization that benefits tremendously from his rich experience captured the movie’s tagline ‘Experience never gets old’.
While age lends much-needed pragmatism and experience to an organization, youth helps introduce newer and experimental ideas and zeal for risk-taking. Each generation brings to the table their unique qualities and skills. A fine balance of these scales can reap immense benefits for an organization.
Creating an Equitable Workplace
There are myths and perceptions associated with people of different ages. Older workers are often perceived to be technologically inept, resistant to change, less innovative and adaptable. However, they have much more experience, not just of a particular field but also of life in general. This makes them a much-needed pillar of support for any organization that is looking to create a stable and sustainable future for itself. On the other hand, millennials are often perceived to be entitled and reckless. However, they are much more adaptable and open to change and innovation that makes the workforce resilient and ever-evolving.
Creating an equitable workforce implies achieving a fine blend of these two dimensions. A blend of employees of different ages also serves to further our diversity and inclusion agenda that has significant benefits for the organization’s growth.
Promote Multi-generational Teams
Employees have a tendency to bunch up in their own age groups. This resistance to mingling has to be broken through active promotion of intergenerational teams. Instituting multi-generational teams and promoting mentorship roles for older employees is a brilliant way to help employees from different age groups learn from each other and achieve positive business growth. When younger employees get adequate exposure to working with older colleagues, they also get to learn important skills and tricks of the trade that only experience can teach. Such teams will foster innovation, creativity while adopting time tested effective organizational skills, and tactics.
Create a Flexible Workspace
If you have a multi-generational team in place, you must acknowledge that the demands and requirements of this diverse workforce will vary. Institute a more open and flexible approach to timing and work, allow more remote and work from home options, more part-time associations to allow everyone to fit in. Offering creative solutions to suit the different needs of people will help the organization reap the benefits of diversity through a healthy mix of experience and youth.
Working with people who are different from you exposes you to different horizons, stimulates your brain and sharpens its performance. Non-homogenous teams are more likely to offer diverse solutions to problems and encourage greater cross-questioning. An organization that promotes diversity and inclusion allows easy assimilation of varied elements. Be it gender diversity, physical diversity or age diversity, an organization that truly respects and fosters inclusion reaps immense benefits from having multiple types of brains working towards a common objective.