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Mixing it with Gen Y: Why an age diverse workplace is key to success

9915-senior_workerAlong with the rest of the Western world, New Zealand is experiencing the effects of an aging population. Not only are there more of us, but we’re living longer, healthier lives. What this means is that people will be working later into their lives than we used to previously. If we’re healthy and happy (and hey, if we need the cash!) then we want to stick around in the workforce for longer.

But are we aging out of our jobs? Is the gap between us and Gen Y too wide a river to traverse?

Robert Walters, worldwide recruitment specialists, recently released a whitepaper focusing on generational gaps in the workforce. The paper specifically tackles the motivations, preferred working styles, and age-related issues in the workplace amongst three distinct age groups: Gen Y (Born 1977 to 1995), Gen X (born 1965 – 1976), and Baby Boomers (born 1946 – 1964).

And the results may surprise you. It’s official. We’re not so different from Gen Y as we think – at least not in the workplace.

The biggest motivation for both Gen Y and Baby Boomers is to make an impact by performing meaningful work

workonroads_movevehicles_That kid down the hall in your office? He’s got the same motivations as you to turn up to work every day. Both Baby Boomers and Gen Y identified that they wanted their work to be something they felt passionate about.

“In every age group, more than eight out of ten professionals preferred to try new ways of doing things, instead of using tried and trusted methods”

Despite that old adage, “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks”, we all know that that’s not the truth at all. However only 5% of hiring managers “feel that being “open to new ideas” is one of the strongest characteristics of older professionals.” When managers put away their assumptions about working styles, it means that we can all work together on exciting new projects, in different ways.

Ongoing learning is important to all of us, regardless of age

people-coffee-notes-teaThe results of the survey have found that ongoing learning in the workplace is exceedingly crucial, with 98% of Gen Y, 96% of Gen X, and 96% of Baby Boomers finding it important to them. Across a span at a company, to reduce stagnancy, you might retrain for different roles and head in different directions but still remain a loyal employee, whatever your age. With the right employer, this can be a great way for anyone to get a new lease on life, or at least their working life!

Having an intergenerational workforce isn’t just a choice that companies should be making, it’s something that they should be seeing as imperative. Diversity on all fronts, be it gender, cultural background, or age, makes a workplace stronger – so long as the right management and employee benefits are in place.