Age diversity: are employers overlooking the benefits?

HR leader at Boehringer Ingelheim reveals his top three strategies for multi-generational harmony

Age diversity: are employers overlooking the benefits?

The composition of the workforce is changing significantly around the globe and ensuring that you have a healthy mix of gender and ethnicity is set by frameworks that HR teams adhere closely to. However, age diversity is often overlooked even though there is no other time in history when five generations of people have participated simultaneously in the workforce.

From boomers to Gen Z, Boehringer Ingelheim’s (BI) vice president of human resources ASKAN (ASEAN, Korea, Australia & New Zealand), David Serés has four generations among his staff, something that he thinks more business leaders should strive for.

“Age diversity is not new but what is most important is that business leaders and HR teams continue to set the tone and mindset for embracing a multigenerational workforce so everyone can maximize their full potential daily,” said Serés. “This way, we can harness individual strengths and provide equal opportunity for growth and success for each employee to fulfil our purpose of ‘transforming lives for generations.”

The generations participating in the current workforce are broken down as follows; traditionalists born between 1922 and 1945, boomers born between 1946 – 1964, Gen X born between 1965 and 1980, millennials born between 1981 and 1994 and the newest generation to enter the workforce, Gen Z or “Linksters” born between 1995 and the present day. 

Research has revealed that having a multi-generational workforce has many benefits; better business results, healthy attrition, skills development, and innovation.

“In practice, when we have diversity in the workforce, we can tap on the experience of the tried and tested, open our minds to the creative and innovative and combine these talents to create value. At BI ASKAN, we take full advantage of our diversity by leveraging our differences in culture, thinking, opinions and experiences to establish a stronger company,” said Serés.

Each generation has its own set of collective core values like work ethic, communication preferences, and stereotypes, which could potentially cause conflict, workplace initiatives that are welcomed by a boomer could be an unwelcome development to a Gen Zer.

But when managed properly, organisations have the opportunity to capitalise on the strengths of each generation to gain a competitive advantage. 

“Stereotypes and misperceptions can sometimes happen due to miscommunications or unconscious bias. Managers need to be conscious of these and be open to speaking about the differences that are brought about by varied communication styles, leadership styles, values, and work ethics. When we are aware of these pitfalls, we will be ready to appreciate a multi-generational workforce, respect it and build on it to unleash its full potential,” Serés told HRD.

Seres is proud of his company’s strong commitment to harnessing the power of a multi-generational team and said there are many projects that have benefitted from this. He told HRD that BI ASKAN is committed to support their multi-generational workforce moving into the future.

“BI ASKAN needs to continue providing a platform where individuals of different generations and mindsets feel at ease and can perform at their full potential as this brings value to BI and fulfils our mission to improve lives of humans and animals.”

David Serés top three strategies for multi-generational harmony

  1. Focus on inclusive behaviours. Always emphasize tangible behaviours that are relatable and easy for people to understand and therefore act.
  2. Make it a priority and accountability of everyone, not just the business leaders or HR. All have a role to play to promote multi-generational harmony.
  3. Embed the culture as part of people’s practices. Ensure that it is included in all processes and decisions related to recruiting and talent development and recognition. Diversity and Inclusion are not and cannot be a standalone process.

 

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