This month we are focusing on conversations about creating age inclusive workplaces, and the correlation to wellness and resilience in the workplace.
It is widely acknowledged we have an ageing workforce and that older and younger workers are facing similar challenges especially when up against ageism in the workplace. How often have you heard or said,
“You are too young and have no experience” or
“You are overqualified and experienced for this role”.
Stereotypical thinking can be very debilitating and a killer for innovation in your business. Having insights into our mental processes and unconscious assumptions is a useful way to help us move away from stereotypes in the workplace and embrace diversity and inclusion.
Let us look at our own unconscious bias towards older workers. Do you ever catch yourself thinking “We do not have to include X in our thinking because they must be due to retire soon” or “Older workers don’t get technology” – Tell that to Eric Schmidt, 65, Software Engineer for Amazon; Stuart Russell, 58, Computer scientist and AI Researcher, or Bill Gates, 65. At a local level we have many notable senior entrepreneurs in our workplaces and talented older workers within our teams if only we took time to have a conversation to see where the hidden talents and passions lie.
6 Principles for Leading a Multi-Generational Workplace
- Initiate conversations about generations.
Individuals often make judgments about each other without realising those judgments are generational in nature—and they tend to keep those judgments under the table. When they get them out in the open, the issues become less personalised and more generalised. They become easier—and sometimes even fun—to talk about.
- Ask people about their needs and preferences.
Out of the best intentions, human beings often project their preferences onto others. The only way to know for certain what someone else’s needs and preferences are is to ask!
- Offer options.
Working successfully with a mix of generations means offering as many choices as possible to suit the needs and preferences of a diverse workforce.
- Personalise your style.
Be flexible. Learn about preferences of others on the team and find creative ways to meet their expectations.
- Build on strengths.
The best mixed-generation work teams recognise the unique strengths of each individual. Urge people who are different to become more of who they already are, rather than trying to blend in with the rest of the team.
- Pursue different perspectives.
Many work teams would say they tolerate differences, but the mixed-generation teams that truly succeed go beyond tolerance. Choose people with varied backgrounds and perspectives to work on projects together.
Adapted from AARP Leading a Multi-Generational Workforce 2007
Increasing numbers of older workers are staying on in work longer through choice and increasingly from necessity, however changes will need to be made to workplaces to ensure the management of risk and the engagement of a multi-generational workforce.
Longevity is changing everything about life and work as we know it and encourages us to look at life differently no matter what life stage you are at. We are living longer healthier lives (on average about 20 years longer – aptly named the longevity bonus) so rather than tag this onto the end of our working life, people are thinking differently about how they disperse options and opportunities throughout their different life stages. Over one third of our NZ workforce is now 50 and over and for many it is a time to take charge and create a life that is purposeful and fulfilling. Being mindful of wellness at all life stages is a critical element to living well, working well, and staying well regardless of whether you are an employer or employee.
Contact us if you would like to have a conversation about this very topical issue or if you are interested in attending one of our Age and Work or Well@Work programmes:
- AGEING WORKFORCE STRATEGY BUILDER PROGRAMME – Working with business owners, HR managers, health safety and wellbeing managers, and operational managers to develop a strategy and action plan
- ENGAGE Workshop – Working with an ageing workforce
- CONVERSE Workshop – Having an effective life stage conversation with your employees/ team
- REVITALISE Workshop – Re-energise your career
- EXPLORE Workshop – Thinking about a future beyond work
We work to provide targeted support where business owners need it most. If your business is eligible for Regional Business Partners support, most of our services are approved under the Regional Business Partner management capability voucher fund.
The Management Capability Voucher Fund may provide business owners with up to 50% of the cost of management capability training to a maximum of $5000. A full outline of our Regional Business Partner services can be found in the Regional Business Partners website under ‘Marketplace’ – search for Workplace Wellness or Partners in Change.
Check with your local Business Growth Advisor regarding eligibility www.regionalbusinesspartners.co.nz