Office Dynamics of an Intergenerational Workplace

For the first time in history, four different generations could now find themselves working together. As we experience better health and a higher cost of living, many older workers find themselves continuing in the workforce past what was once considered the traditional retirement age.

Over the past decade, the Gen Y worker has definitely been the flavour of the month, with many employers having a preference to hire these educated, tech savvy and ambitious workers. Often this has been at the expense of older workers who are instead viewed as expensive, out of touch and difficult to work with.

We all know stereotypes are often inaccurate and this certainly holds true for the older worker. One of the biggest things potentially feeding this negative stereotype is in fact calling them older workers. From this point on I will refer to experienced 45 to 65 year olds as ‘Wisdom Workers’ and hopefully you will consider hiring one by the time you’ve finished reading this blog!

However, I’m not just sharing why you should consider Wisdom Workers as part of your retention and recruitment strategy, but I want you to also consider how you can create a cohesive and productive workplace culture by harnessing the benefits which come from both age and youth.

Different Approach to Work

Of course it can only be expected that different generations have a different approach to work. However employers need really only be concerned with the output, not necessarily the methodology in getting there.

Through the benefit of hindsight, Wisdom Workers are able to draw upon the years of work and life experience to deliver a methodical and well thought out response to a problem. While it may take them a bit longer to deliver the solution, you can be sure they are also making a decision in the best interests of the employer and also potentially the customer.

However, it is also important to have a workplace culture where ideas are encouraged to be shared and sometimes the unbridled thinking of a younger worker can generate some creative and innovative initiatives.

What is important for the employer or team leader to achieve is an environment where both generations are not only aware but also respectful of their colleagues’ different approach to problem solving.

It’s obvious to see the benefits here in a scenario where a creative idea is generated but the final polish can be added by the wisdom worker.

Gen Y + Gen X + Gen WW = Productive Outcomes

Connecting Generations Through Mentoring

While it would be nice to think we could all just get along and allow this cohesive intergenerational workplace to flourish, the reality is, if it isn’t already happening it probably won’t without a little intervention. This is where a very informal mentoring program could be implemented in the first instance to help get things started. Break the ice so to speak! Connecting generations through a meaningful relationship will help to not only improve communication but also build mutual respect, regardless of seniority.

Need Some Help?

If you were interested in setting up a mentor program or would like some guidance as to ‘where the hell do I start?’ then feel free to get in touch with us. Through our networks of colleagues, friends and our specialist industry knowledge, we are confident we can point you in the right direction and get you in the Mentorloop!

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Lucy is the Co-founder and CEO of Mentorloop.

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