Best Working Environments

4 Reasons The Best Working Environments Are Multi-Generational

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The best working environments are those that are multi-generational. Here are a few reasons why:

1. Every Generation Has Its Blind Spots

By having a multi-generational workforce these blind spots can be avoided to a large degree. A clear example is the issue of technology. The young bulls (of whichever gender) want to have technology, technology, and more technology.

The older bulls (of either gender) can put a quash on making the company technology based for technology’s sake. This vital tension means that essential technology will be implemented, but non-essential technology will not… at least ideally.

2. Each Generation Appeals To A Different Set Of Customers

Some people want to do business with the young hotshot, while others want the greybeard. This is just human nature. By having a workforce which is predominantly one generation, businesses can miss out on some customers.

3. It’s Better Legally

If there are people of every generation at all levels of your company, a discrimination suit by someone you’ve had to let go is much less likely to go anywhere. After all, how can an elder worker claim you’re discriminating against older workers if two of them are in upper-management, with others scattered throughout the company?

4. It Allows Each Generation To Safely Shine

In my experience, younger workers are more likely to take risks that can benefit the company if there is a “safety net” of older workers to catch them if they fall. Conversely, older workers can rapidly fall behind the times and be beat by competitors if they don’t keep up. A multi-generational workforce lets each generation do what they do best, without a fear that something will be missed. This leads to greater creativity and a better flow of ideas within the company.

The multi-generational workforce can be a real challenge, especially if each generation is vying for the most recognition. A good manager will utilize the tension rather than fear it or try to gloss it over. The most important thing is for the younger generations to value the experience and wisdom of the older generations, and the older generations to value the skills and innovation of the younger generations.

So long as everyone operates with mutual listening and respect, the multi-generational workforce will kick butt over a workforce that is predominant in one generational demographic.

Photo Credit: Shutterstock

John Heckers

John Heckers is president of Heckers Development Group, LTD, a consulting firm based in Denver, Colorado, specializing in Strategic Executive Coaching.

2 comments

  1. One of the biggest benefits is that consistently studies show that creativity thrives in a diverse environment, with multi-generational differences being one of a variety of types of diversity (for example functional diversity might be even more valuable by integrating business, creative and technical staff members on teams as opposed to the functional silos that have been popular in the past).

    Also while broad generalizations like those in this article are helpful in conceptually recognizing benefits of diversity, remember not to depend on them at the individual level. Differences typically are greater within a category than between the categories. For example, an empty-nester may be a bigger risk-taker and/or invest more time in learning new technologies than a person in their early 30’s raising a family. A 20-something that worked 5 years in a business role may be more business-aware and/or less tech-savvy than a 40-something that’s been a code monkey his/her whole career. The key is to seek diversity based on the job-related qualities of individuals rather than generalities.

  2. Thanks for the post. Very true. I would also add that a multi-cultural workforce is also key. The two things combined would create an ideal workforce. However, the sad reality of life is that age descrimination is still rife in a workplace with younger employees frequently looking down at the older ones (or vice versa).

    Dasha Amrom
    Career Coaching Ventures

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