A multi-generational workforce presents challenges and opportunities

Debbie Lovewell-Tuck

Few employers now will not have personal experience of having five generations of employees in the workplace – and the challenges and opportunities this presents.

Certainly, having members of the baby-boomer generation, and the wealth of knowledge and experience they have amassed during their careers, working alongside members of generation Z who are entering the workplace for the first time, can be invaluable when it comes to learning and passing on knowledge to new entrants.

In turn, members of the younger generations may be able to share their knowledge and experience of some newer developments, for example, around technology and how these can be applied within the business world.

With people now living and working even longer than ever, the multi-generational workforce looks set to grow further. As the current retirement age becomes less and less relevant, however, employers must ensure that staff who continue to work past this age do so because they want to, not simply because they cannot afford to retire. Retaining experience and talent can be invaluable, but organisations must ensure their talent pipeline does not become clogged at the upper end by employees who wish to retire but cannot afford to do so, becoming disengaged as a result.

Designing and implementing a benefits strategy that meets the needs of both a multi-generational workforce and those of an employer managing such a diverse employee base can be a complex task. Research has consistently shown that stereotypical assumptions about what different age groups value are not always accurate so employers should invest time in understanding and identifying which benefits hold the greatest appeal to each cohort within their workforce. Find out more in How to create a benefits strategy for an ‘ageless’ workforce.

The fact that people are now living longer also means more employees are increasingly becoming members of the sandwich generation, with caring responsibilities for both children and elderly parents or relatives.

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Familial worries and caring concerns can be a source of significant stress for employees, particularly if regular care arrangements break down or an unexpected situation should arise, for example, a parent requiring post-hospital care. The impact this can have on productivity in the workplace can be significant, resulting in many employers looking for ways to support employees with caring responsibilities. Find out how in Caring benefits for a multi-generational workforce.

Debbie Lovewell-Tuck
Tweet: @DebbieLovewell