Let’s play word association. What comes to mind when you think of “workplace diversity”?
Nope. We’re not talking race and gender here. Sure, these are hot-button topics in the media these days, so of course your mind defaults to making sure your company is taking advantage of the rich and complex perspectives that different races and genders bring to the table. But there’s more to diversity than just race and gender.
It’s true, what they say: You’re never too old to learn something new. Mixing employees of various ages together in the workplace can create daily learning experiences for inexperienced and more experienced employees alike.
Your organization’s ratio of younger to older employees matters. Having a good mix of both seasoned and youthful employees will add a healthy host of skills and attributes to your company. From millennials to baby boomers, members of every generation can help you build your business from the ground up.
What can younger generations contribute to your business?
Members of younger generations are flooding the job market, and baby boomers are retiring one by one. According to an article by the PEW Research Center, approximately 4 million people between 16 and 24 years of age were unemployed as of April 2015. Despite the need for new employees, many companies are hesitant to hire “kids” with little to no experience. But it shouldn’t be that way. Younger generations have plenty to offer you and your business.
1. Technology know-how
Younger generations learn early how to use the latest technology, many of them teaching themselves. The iPod is no longer a device strictly used for music; its link to the App Store allows access thousands of organizational and educational apps to make our personal and work lives easier. And with around-the-clock access, networking has become a breeze for social media users. Hiring people with top-notch technology skills will help modernize your business, keeping it up to date with societal trends and making access to your services easier for consumers. If you want to keep your business alive for decades to come, onboarding youngsters is the way to go.
Younger workers have been exposed to plenty of group projects throughout their education, making them comfortable working with others. On the other hand, members of older generations may have a tendency to take on too many responsibilities and some can quite stubborn when it comes to asking for help. Hiring younger employees can help relieve stress for older employees when responsibilities are properly delegated. Think of it as a modern-day sort of assembly line—your employees are working together to reach a common goal and are no longer overwhelmed to the breaking point. Splitting responsibilities helps increase productivity in the workplace and create a less stressful work environment.
Younger employees put a great twist on older concepts. More modern ways of thinking and abilities that appeal to more diverse audiences bring the opportunity for much more business. Increase sales by hiring millennials and allowing them to contribute fresh ideas in ways that will improve your products.
Why hire members of older generations?
A survey of people aged 45 to 74 by the Bureau of Labor Statistics showed that 58 percent think age discrimination in the workplace is targeted at people in their 50s and older. Help your company rise above that statistic. If your company is made up mostly of millennials, it may be time to add a classic touch. Don’t bust on older employees, because they have some increasingly rare qualities to contribute to your business.
Older generations didn’t get this far by sitting back and watching their parents do everything for them. They’ve been in the workforce for decades, so they’ve seen much more than millennials can relate to. Experienced workers have overcome rough challenges and will continue to do so, inspiring younger employees to persevere through the tough times and come out on top. They’ve seen how multiple wars, recessions, and other domestic and global events have affected society. They know how to survive. When history repeats itself, as it tends to do in some form or another, you’re going to want the older generations to help your business survive.
Older employees don’t usually have histories as job-hoppers, unlike plenty of millennials. Attractive incentives aren’t always make-or-break deals with baby boomers, as they can be to younger generations. They’re used to sticking it out—arriving to work on time every day, going above and beyond their daily responsibilities, etc.—and they take pride in their work, which makes them ideal mentors for younger employees in the workplace.
3. Organizational skills
They’ve been at it longer, so members of older generations have systems they follow to accomplish their goals. They’ve learned that being organized is the best way to make sure everything gets done right the first time. When you’re looking for structure and success, onboard more experienced individuals to help you get organized.
A healthy mix of youthful vigor and traditional wisdom can give your business both stability and innovation, helping your company rise above others that fail to see this simple yet revolutionary concept.
Want more strategies to foster workplace diversity? See Using Technology To Drive Diversity In Your Business.