Age diversity: The effectiveness of reverse mentoring

One of the less talked about strategic capabilities that will add value to an organisation – and one HR leaders won't discount

Age diversity: The effectiveness of reverse mentoring

Singapore is a highly competitive country that attracts a highly skilled global workforce. While HR teams scramble to find new and exciting ways to charm global talent to their organisations, one of the less talked about strategic capabilities that will add value to an organisation over their competitors is age diversity.

Sara Rahmani, VP of people experience, and DEI, at Chronus told HRD that Chronus is a learning first organisation where they’re constantly drawing upon one another’s strengths. While age diversity is just one aspect of their diversity initiatives, it’s an important one. 

“It’s important to have diverse perspectives in the room,” said Rahmani. Our younger generations give companies a strong pulse on the present and the future and then our older generations are such valuable sources of institutional knowledge and understanding of what’s come before in that company, or even in that industry. When you have all those perspectives in the same room, it has a positive effect on workplace performance and culture.”

The current workforce includes up to five different generations, all with differing opinions, needs, and desires. Rahmani warns that leaders must be facilitating really successful collaboration across those age groups.

Read more: Age diversity: Are employers overlooking the benefits?

“The way you would do that,” said Rahmani, “is first, really learning what's important to your team. Specifically, digging into their personal and professional needs. And then you look at your workforce. Everyone has such unique perspectives and unique strengths; so, then it's deciding through reverse mentoring, for instance, how can you provide a space where your employees can lean on one another strengths so that you end up winning together.”

Reverse mentoring, like age diversity in general, hasn’t received a great deal of coverage but there are several companies that have installed a reverse mentoring program. The program partners a junior-level employee with a senior-level employee and the junior helps fill in the possible gaps for senior workers, for instance technology and software, and the senior person perhaps teaches the junior about business best-practice.

“The format of reverse mentoring really encourages mutual learning, and it gives every participant the belief that their perspective matters,” said Rahmani. “When you pair your older workers with younger, perhaps less tenured employees, you're giving your older workers the chance to learn a skill set, or even better grasp a new cultural evolution that's impacting workplace norms.

Read more: How to embrace and manage generational differences in the workforce

Chronus doesn’t have a formal reverse mentoring program in place, however the mentoring software they provide does have a strong reverse mentoring component and Rahmani explained, “informally, she is constantly being mentored by her younger colleagues.”

“I think that mentoring is such a great conduit that connects generations across an organisation,” said Rahmani who believes that specifically when it comes to age diversity, mentoring can help with things like succession planning and setting your younger workforce up to be the next gen leaders, and it can help with skill development and knowledge transfer.

“My older my older workers, they get this emotional energy by having an opportunity to share their views and teach the next generation. My younger workers report greater levels of engagement as a result of learning for their, from their older, more seasoned colleagues. So, mentoring can provide this continued focus on career goals and career path for your entire workforce that ultimately can help make your organization an employer of choice,” said Rahmani.

 

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