Benefits of an Intergenerational Team

What can we learn from the past? Quite a lot actually.  This philosophy is rapidly becoming the mindset of companies who are now moving to hire older workers to support their companies. While there are plenty of companies who would prefer to employ people who are younger, there is a major benefit in hiring those people with much more experience. Mentoring.


Mentoring isn’t a new concept - the practice has been around since the classical age of Greek heroes and Roman youths. But today, when it becomes easy to find whatever lesson you need to learn online, what else or who else can you learn from?


That’s where more experienced workers come in. The benefit of having older workers in the company extend to far more than just work itself. What happens is an organic way of patching up experience gaps, providing role models, and cultivating an environment for creating leaders.


Here are some lessons that older employees can teach your younger employees.

1. Resilience

Older workers are more experienced with life. Working in organisations, and business in general, means they can be role models or guides for younger workers. There are plenty of shifts that take place within organisations, or in the world outside work, that may completely catch younger workers off-guard. People over the age of 45 will have more experience in these situations and can be counsellors, or life coaches, to help younger employees navigate with some level of guidance and comfort. The life experience of older workers can also help show how to turn these events into opportunities.


2. A long‐term view of things

Given the nature of the environment in which they've grown up, it’s more likely that younger workers will expect instant results. The internet and its applications make this a difficult mindset to overcome and this can rub up against a company’s approach to growth, which is usually more methodical. The result for the younger employee can be frustration, uncertainty and, in the most extreme cases, leaving the organisation. After all, the grass always seems greener on the other side! Older employees, having understood the necessity of time for a growth driven project, can help provide a proper perspective.


This is especially useful with careers that require a long time before company results are shown, such as in government. Younger workers can feel disillusioned with jobs that require routine work, but having older people in the same workspace, can help give new light on the significance of the work being done. If nothing else, they can function as a testament to the achievements made possible by patience and hard work.


3. Balancing work (and life outside of it)

One of the biggest conflicts facing young workers today is the challenge of work-life balance simply because communication is totally mobile and 24/7. Companies also face this same issue, and while steps may be taken to make the workload itself manageable, it can ultimately fall to the workers themselves to balance work with life. This is where older workers can come in and share their experience. One of the most important lessons is to teach younger employees the importance of taking a break.


Mature employees generally have more experience in handling their workloads, as well as navigating through office customs that may seem intimidating to younger workers. They can advise how to delegate work, keep a schedule when it comes to office duties, and even help prevent younger workers from burning out.


4. Independence and responsibility

Taking on tasks and being confident about producing a result is one of the most important lessons for any younger employee to learn. Being enthusiastic to try and learn throughout the process and by making mistakes is so important to building a career. This is where older employees can help by setting an example and supporting younger workers by being a mentor and sounding board.


Learning how to be independent is critical and unfortunately, due to the rising cost of living, the need to pay off student loans and saving for your own house, a lot of young people will be more dependent on family now than in the past. This can hinder developing independence, which is where older workers can help.


5. Life experiences

This may be the biggest advantage of all the older candidates in the market right now; the sheer amount of time they’ve accumulated and the experience that comes with it. This is expressed in different ways such as the experience they show in dealing with the mundane and routine aspects of a role. Having an older person around can help keep them grounded, while also fostering a caring work environment.


6. Loyalty

Younger workers often have huge aspirations starting out in their careers and these can often lead to them to jump from company to company even while starting out, which can harm organisations and employees.  People over the age of 45 are more stable, loyal and don't have the same expectations on promotion time frames. This can help a company by providing a lower staff turnover rate and retaining skills and knowledge.


Older workers can also show the merits of staying in a company and building a career, and the downsides of fitting from job to job. This can help keep talented workers and develop competent leaders for the future, which is especially important with regards to the expected future shortages of talent.


7. Interpersonal skills

Finally, one of the best lessons that younger workers can learn from their more experienced co-workers are soft skills; resilience, patience, perseverance, the ability to interact harmoniously with colleagues.  Workers over the age of 45 can show them the ropes and their experience can help develop a more harmonious office environment. This creates better cooperation between people and teams, and ultimately, increased productivity.


Here are some lessons that older employees can learn from younger employees.

1. Technology skills

Younger workers have grown up with technology which has resulted in a fluency and knowledge that some older workers could benefit from.  This could also lead to more efficient communication internally as older workers adapt to apps like WhatsApp, Instagram, and Facetime.


2. A fresh perspective

Younger workers tend to bring a freshness and enthusiasm to their work, especially if they are new to the role or industry.  This could help inspire existing employees to look at their role with from a different angle.


People over the age of 45 can be fantastic mentors

Mentoring is one of the best tools that companies can deploy to have a more efficient working environment. Recruitment agencies are also starting to look for this skill when it comes to recommending older workers and recognise the value of having experience added to workplaces largely populated by younger employees.


It’s also crucial for older job seekers to start incorporating these skill sets into their resumes. While their core skills and competencies are necessary to the job they are applying for, it is undoubtedly an added point in their favour when they elaborate on their ability to pass down knowledge that could be useful to the company’s growth in the long term. These skill sets may not always be apparent in CVs, so writing an effective cover letter is the best way to get these skills noticed.  Older, more experienced workers can help bridge the skills shortage gap, create more conducive environments for work, and generally spur the growth of a company.



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