Talent Development and Age Diversity in the Workplace

Posted by Elizabeth Pearce on Mon, Oct 24, 2011 @ 04:25 PM

This is the first of six articles on Age Diversity in the Workplace. This is a topic which has been gaining attention among thought leaders in talent development. We, and others, have begun focusing on generational demographics, and the  different communication styles of each generation. On Monday, for example, Katie Kuehner-Hebert  published Managing Through Life Stages.

Kim Wise has been making presentations and writing for years on different communication styles and the subtle variations in the way people view their careers and professional development. At Mentor Resources, our focus in on the connection between the Mentor and the Mentee, which we believe drives the success of any mentor program.  The heart of the WisdomShare™ software is a proprietary algorithm for matching, which is designed to cross over the generational divide, by matching people with similar styles and worldviews.

Some of the challenges associated with age diversity in the workplace and generational differences are due to the life-stages of the employees, which impact their perception of time and speed.  But more significant, is their comfort with technology which, particularly for Millennials and Generation X, is function of the access to the Internet as they were growing up.  We have published a whitepaper, Four Generations in the Workplace, which summarizes these six blogs.

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Firms are increasingly incorporating generational differences into their workforce strategies to better attract and retain employees, enhance learning, improve relations between employees and managers, and accommodate their older workers.  “This is the 21st century ‘diversity’ issue  that human resource professionals are now paying closer attention to,”  says Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, director of the Sloan Center on Aging & Work  at Boston College.

Aging PrismThe Sloan Center recently published Age: A 21st Century  Diversity Imperative which coined the phrase, the Aging Prism, highlighting these key findings:

  • Age Diversity in the Workforce strategy is not clearly defined within  organizations.

Despite having well-defined diversity and inclusion strategy, most firms  do not have a formal age diversity strategy.

  • Approaches to Age Diversity in the Workforce are evolving within organizations.

These approaches are moving from  compliance-only with an older worker focus towards multi-generational  approaches, with an integrated age management strategy and recognition of  generational diversity.

  • Executives and Human Resource Leaders immediately “get it.”

They quickly recognize how Age Diversity in the Workforce aligns with their  existing initiatives.

The primary focus within Age Diversity in the workplace is the multiple generations.
Traditionalists  (born before 1946), Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964), Gen X (born 1965-1980), Gen  Y, also referred to as Millennials (born 1981-2000), and the up and coming Gen  2020 (born after 2000).

Communication styles to enhance socialization is the key component.  Each promising business practice focuses on the communication style within affinity groups, networking events, social media outreach, onboarding new hires, etc.

Even in organizations that have implemented age-related initiatives, the focus is on improving engagement through better communication between younger and older workers.  The internal strategic focus is on the four generations in the workplace and enhancing intergenerational relationships.

Mentor Resources is hosting a conference call on how these issues impact talent development and mentoring. Mark your calendar now for November 3rd at 11:00 AM PST/2PM EST for “The Importance of Mentoring with Four Generations in the Workplace.”

Each of these four generations, has a slightly different weighting on the core values and issues of importance to all employees.  Don’t miss Mentor Resources’ informational webinar for managers on Thursday, November 3. RSVP with Jennifer Aguilar at JAguilar “at” MentorResources.com or 415-380-0918.

Topics: Baby Boomers, Generation X, Age Diversity in the Workplace