The Entrepreneurs

Creating a workplace for all ages

  • Written by Sally Kirkright, CEO of leading Employee Assistance Program, AccessEAP


Today’s workplaces are more generationally diverse than ever before, with five generations currently working side by side, and as Australia’s population ages by 2025 more than 26% of our population will be over 65.

Organisations need to prepare for how best to manage such a diverse workforce and promote an inclusive inter-generational culture. To do this effectively, businesses need to understand the unique characteristics and motivators of each generation, as these impact communication styles, working relationships, and overall job satisfaction.


The current intergenerational workforce largely consists of Generation X (age 36-50) and Millennial (age 21-35) employees who make up a combined 65% of the workforce, being 31% and 34% respectively. Baby Boomers (age 51-69) are the third biggest age bracket accounting for 25% while Generation Z (age 6 – 20) are at 9% and Builders (age 70+) are at 1%. Each generation attaches different meaning and values to work, beliefs about rewards, communication styles, technology usage, and learning modalities. As with all diversity, these differences have potential to create conflict if not managed effectively.

The most effective organisations will embrace opportunities to integrate the skills of each generation, explains Sally Kirkright, CEO, AccessEAP, a leading not for profit Employee Assistance Program that supports and develops positive organisational behaviour and mental health management. Harnessing these differences and adapting to different styles is vital for managers and organisations.

“Many may think that younger equals better, these employees are generally more literate in new technologies, and have new and innovative ideas. However, by incorporating the mindset and experience of older generations, businesses can drive more effective teams. Recent research shows that the nation could add approximately $69 billion1 to its Gross Domestic Product by increasing employment rates for workers aged 55 and over. This generation are more loyal and want to learn about and engage with new technologies.”

“Employers should look at creating a positive work culture that encourages the Baby Boomers and Builders’ hard worth ethic and younger generations’ dynamism. If organisations can introduce policies that benefit workers of any age, they will reap the business benefits through higher employee engagement and therefore productivity,” adds Kirkright.

Here, AccessEAP outlines some of the key strategies that organisations may want to consider to help create a mentally healthy and safe workplace:

Promote acceptance of differences between the generations

Age-diverse workforces are a fact. Businesses need to understand the generational differences and promote a culture of acceptance and inclusion. Kirkright notes “conflict is the second highest work issue that clients present with, and intergenerational issues can be a contributing factor”. Each generation offers unique strengths. For e.g. Younger employees are used to fast-paced communication through online technologies. Older generations may prefer face-to-face or phone communication. Interpretations around communication can become divisive and lead to conflict. E.g. emails may be perceived as impersonal, abrupt, or dismissive. Younger generations use abbreviations and symbols to communicate quickly and may struggle to identify when a conversation may work better. Coaching, tolerance for different communication styles, adaptation and compromise will go a long way toward creating a harmonious workplace.

 

Avoid Stereotypes

In taking a strengths-based approach, it is also imperative to move away from stereotypes about each generation. E.g. older employees being perceived as ‘stuck in their ways’, and younger generations presented as “entitled and tech obsessed”. These types of divisive statements can create and maintain inter-generational conflict. Managers, by using constructive language which focuses on a person’ strengths rather than age, can make a difference. This encourages growth and learning rather than comparison and judgment.

 

Find common purpose

Many organizations are facing challenges with workplace culture. Inter-generational cohesiveness can be created by identifying common ground/purpose and shared values. By collaborating and communicating on the vision, meaning and purpose of what the organization does and how each employee contributes to it, employees will feel valued and engaged. “Ensure the team is aligned as this will drive the focus from ‘this is WHAT we do’ to ‘this is WHY we do…’ which is important to Gen X and Y. Everyone, regardless of age wants to be valued for their input.

 

Mentoring up

Traditional ideas of mentoring tended to have a top-down approach, in which a senior employee (often older) imparts their knowledge to a younger person. Younger generations prefer collaborative working styles. Introduce two-way mentoring and coaching to allow generations to share their specific skills and knowledge. For example, millennial employees may be able to show Baby Boomers how to get the best out of new technologies, while learning how to manage people or customers from baby boomers.

 

Managing job expectations

Builders and Baby boomers started their careers in a time where a job was for life and that if you keep your head down and work hard you will be rewarded. Conversely, millennials and Generation X belief in working smart and that talent is the key to success, therefore they expect to be respected and their jobs to provide them with purpose.

Communication and balance are important in clarifying and understanding business needs and employees expectations. Develop formal processes to champion best practice and results; create open discussion with employees to focus on learning and development plans. Encourage feedback to foster a sense of participation and responsibility for shaping the way work is conducted and ultimately the success of the business.

 

Reward accordingly

It is important to understand what motivates your people and where their sense of job satisfaction is derived. Often each generation will stay in their role for very different reasons. It is vital to understand this and reward people appropriately to retain and create a stable workforce in your organisation. Reward need not be monetary, millennials expect experience and learning.

 

At AccessEAP we recognise that managers and organisations are often challenged by the complexity of understanding how to support an inter-generational workforce and effectively implement change. We offer a range of services that assist with this.

 

For additional information on how AccessEAP can help your business can become a more diverse and inclusive workplace, visit www.accesseap.com.au


About AccessEAP

AccessEAP is a leading Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) provider in Australia. We have been assisting companies across Australia, New Zealand and South East Asia since 1989. In 2017 AccessEAP’s 950 qualified clinical professionals supported more than 1.8 million employees, with over 27,000 of counselling and completed more than 2,500 hours of EAP training. As an Australian owned not for profit, our surplus profit is distributed by the Curran Access Childrens Foundation to support childrens welfare programs and indigenous children at risk in the community.


.

Savvy Sales - 5 Small Gestures That Have…

While first impressions are important for setting an image in business, it’s your ongoing actions and treatment of clients that will secure your reputation in the long run. Grand “romantic”...

6 Tips for Maximising a Small Office Spa…

Everyone working in an office dreams of the day they land that big promotion – the one that comes with a private corner suite, complete with a huge desk and...

Perfect Your Promotions - The 5 Keys to …

Hosting a successful corporate event is challenging, to say the least. This kind of event is important because it presents endless opportunities for growing your business, enhancing your network, and...

4 Questions You Should Ask Your Commerci…

Demolition contractors are a dime a dozen, and you can’t roll the dice or simply go with recommendations when picking one. Choosing the wrong contractor could result in a poor...

Avoiding Rookie Mistakes: What You Shoul…

The Australian real estate economy remains one of the country’s most profitable sectors to build a career in. However, when you start out for the first time, it is common...

A Guide: Giving Your Online Audience Wha…

If your website/blog no longer engages your audience or if your online store no longer stocks products that are relevant to their needs, you will stand no chance whatsoever of...

Best Mobile Apps for Managing Your Busin…

Running a business is not as easy as it sounds. You have to ensure that your finances are in order, meet new business clients, communicate to your customers and resolve...

Moving On Short Notice? Here’s What You …

Planning a move takes a lot of time and effort, and moving last minute is even harder – unless you have the Best Removalist in Sydney by your side. Maybe...

Visiting Bali - Avoiding Unpleasant Surp…

Bali is a stunning Indonesian island with gorgeous beaches, exotic forests and sunsets to die for, but it also has religious significance to the locals, and there are a few...

Top 3 Cybersecurity Threats Faced by Mod…

Cybersecurity is not just an IT problem. It is a social, political and business problem, too. However, there are many different threats that your business could face, and trying to...

7 ways to minimise family disruption whe…

People move for a lot of reasons. Sometimes good reasons and sometimes people just have to. Whatever the reason, moving is inconvenient. There will be disruptions.   Here are some ways...

How to Trade Stock Indices with CFDs

Traders who want to learn to make a profit have multiple options, many of which include taking large positions in just one or two stocks. In order to avert that...

The 5 Key Medical Marketing You Need to …

Today’s medical practice must navigate a constantly evolving world of business that only partially focuses on the medicine itself. This is particularly true when it comes to attracting and retaining...

Study reveals winning tweet formula used…

Celebrity tweets that paint a picture of the high life for fans are more likely to be shared than facts, introspection or angry outbursts, new study reveals.   With social media influencer...

Bringing Your Business to an Internation…

Throughout the world, there are millions of different businesses that vary in size from local mom-and-pop stores, to global international enterprises. When opening a business, most proprietors tend to focus...

America Travel Trips for Foreigners

Heading to USA? Are you prepared for the trip? If you think packing your bags, booking pricey tickets and getting Esta USA Visa is all the preparation you need, then...

Cryptocurrency Trading vs. Stock Trading

The goal of any professional trader is to diversify his investments in order to spread the risk across a bigger number of asset classes. As new industries emerge, so do...

Hair loss and your career

It’s no secret that men dread the thought of hair loss, and going bald can have a devastating effect on a man’s confidence and if we’re honest, his dating prospects...

Invisalign: The Beginnings

Invisalign technology is well-known the world over as offering people with misaligned teeth – especially adults who did not have orthodontic treatment in childhood, for whatever reason – a way...

Hot Desks - The New Deal For Start-up Bu…

Today more than at any time entrepreneurs can take advantage of the numerous opportunities for business in Australia. With many of its major cities transforming themselves into international business centres...

Online Pokies for Real Money

Australian gamblers go absolutely crazy for the online pokies and there goes without saying they make up the better part of casino, be it online or brick-and-mortar. The slot machines...

Looking back at the content marketing tr…

The world of content marketing has continued to grow year on year, and 2018 was no exception. Full of tantalising new ways to engage with audiences, the field has create...

Moving house in Perth Western Australia

When it comes to your family home, a house move consists of moving your personal belongings from one house to another. This type of move can be very stressful if...

How Your Enterprise Ecommerce Platform C…

As ecommerce stores become more popular, choosing the right platform can determine whether or not your business will stand out among a host of competitors. In order to properly capitalize...