Age diversity, or having employees of different ages working together, may seem to present challenges in the workplace. Different age groups may have different values, which may seem to clash when they are working together in the same group, department or company. But like other kinds of diversity, there are tremendous benefits to age diversity that can be used to create a better work environment where everyone works together and the bottom line is improved for the experience.
Here are some key ways to maximize the benefits of age diversity in the workplace.
1. When older workers share their experience, everyone benefits.
Part of the company culture should be to embrace wisdom and experience wherever it may be found. Older workers tend to have experience with strategic thinking, collaboration, effective communication, and emotional intelligence that can benefit younger employees who have not had as much life experience. Technical skills and problem-solving may also be more advanced in older employees with decades on the job.
2. Teams benefit from a variety of approaches.
Collaboration involves taking in many different ideas in order to make better decisions, and the unique viewpoints Baby Boomers can bring to the table help contribute to the collaborative process, leading to a better end result. McKinsey found in a recent study that diverse teams lead to a better bottom line for companies and make them more profitable.
3. Mentoring programs save training costs.
When more experienced workers can pass their knowledge and experience down to newer employees, learning is usually more effective than other types of training and the overall level of knowledge increases. 45-year veteran computer programmer Dan Heberling, 65, spent time each day teaching and mentoring newer and less-experienced programmers at Sungard K-12, a provider of payroll and other software for school districts, and the team was able to better complete its tasks as a result.
4. Better retention of workers.
Older workers improve retention in two ways: they themselves are more loyal and less likely to change jobs, and younger workers who can get mentorship and help are less likely to leave their jobs as well. Replacing workers is a costly proposition for employers, so the longer they can retain them, the bigger the benefit to the company’s bottom line.
5. An untapped source of talent in a time of shortage.
With unemployment remaining at low levels and more jobs currently available than there are people looking for work, older workers who want to keep working can be an untapped source of talent for employers looking for new places to acquire it. Although older workers often command a higher salary than those newly entering the workforce such as new college graduates, their value can also be higher to offset these costs because they need less onboarding and training to reach their peak productivity.
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