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Managing

Best Practices

Managing a Multi-generational Workforce

Introduction

Introduction

Managing a multi-generational workforce presents potential advantages and opportunities for individuals and organisations. At the workplace, you may find yourselves managing employees in their teens as well as employees close to retirement. Singapore’s multi-racial society adds another dimension of diversity, as different races, religions, and value systems can affect how your employees relate to each other. Yet, different age groups of employees must be able to work well together for your company to succeed.

Being able to address the generational gaps to create an inclusive work culture will allow you to bring out the best in each of your employees.

Benefits

Each generation brings to the organisation unique experiences, knowledge, ideas and skills. There are many benefits of having a multi-generational team of employees who work well together. Companies that effectively manage their diverse workforce will be able to:

Be creative and innovative

Employees can grow and learn from unique perspectives, experiences and skill sets of their colleagues from different generations. These daily workplace interactions spur innovation and creativity. Diversity in leadership also allows you to bring in new skills, styles and approaches for achieving unity within your teams.

Attract and retain talent

Your ability to effectively manage a diverse workforce enables your company to attract and retain competent workers from various fields. Employees will take pride in working for you when you show yourself to be a fair and inclusive employer. It also develops loyalty among your employees, leading to higher retention rates and cost-savings as you spend less time and effort on recruitment.

Better serve a diverse set of customers

Having a diverse workforce equips your organisation with the right skills and tools to adapt to the needs of an equally diverse customer base and places your company in a better position to serve global customers.

Be recognised as an employer of choice

Adopting fair employment practices, offering re-employment opportunities and enabling your skilled and capable older workers to continue working can boost the branding of your organisation. This in turn, helps you retain your best talents and instils loyalty in your employees.

Tips on managing a multi-generational workforce

Identify any age stereotypes that your organisation may have
Identify any age stereotypes that your organisation may have

Some people may think that an older workers cannot perform as well as a younger colleague at a job. But the older worker’s experience, skills and higher likelihood of continuity may mean that he or she is just as good, if not better.

Encourage multi-generational teams
Encourage multi-generational teams

Often, colleagues tend to cluster according to age. Shake things up a little. If you diversify teams and encourage people to welcome new ideas, employees can bring fresh perspectives to a project. One way is to assign employees to teams based on their development needs, skills, abilities, and work style preferences. To minimise the potential for conflict, stress the importance of maintaining an open mind, and of welcoming different ideas and strategies.

Encourage mentoring
Encourage mentoring

Start a programme in which older and experienced employees mentor their younger colleagues, and guide the younger employees in what to do and not to do. This way, one generation can pass institutional knowledge on to the next. Younger employees can also share their IT skills with their older colleagues.

Have suitable ways of communication
Have suitable ways of communication

Use a range of communication methods which are inclusive, and avoid those which may make some groups feel excluded.

Offer flexible learning
Offer flexible learning

All generations want to learn and expand their knowledge, skills and abilities. Yet learning can take place in different ways and forms, and different generations may prefer different ways of learning. Provide multiple channels that allow employees to learn in diverse ways. These can include coaching on the job, e-Learning, classroom training, and work-simulations.

Provide multiple rewards, benefits and options for compensation
Provide multiple rewards, benefits and options for compensation

Recognise that people from a mix of generations have different needs and preferences, so design your human resource strategies accordingly.

Younger employees may want more flexible schedules and mentorships, while older workers may prefer more stable benefits. Offer a variety of these benefits and opportunities for professional growth to everyone.

Have training on multi-generational issues
Have training on multi-generational issues

Managers should be aware of the multi-generational differences within their team, understand their values and unique strengths. It is also important that they learn about the preferred work values and work styles of their employees regardless of their generation. To achieve this, managers can undergo training programmes to better understand the different generations and adopt a management style that fits each team member and their work environment. This will help them become leaders whom all employees, regardless of their age, want to work for.

Programmes & Resources

Effective Communications for Multi-Generational Workforce: Pocket guide in managing and managing a multi-generational workforce by Dr Helen Ko.

Learn about generation communication preferences and tips on how to effectively communicate to a multi-generational workforce.

Find out more

Multi-Generational Diversity and Ways to Build an Age-Inclusive Workforce

Pocket guide in managing and managing a multi-generational workforce by Dr Helen Ko.

Explore ways to lead and engage a multi-generational workforce.

Find out more