Millennials and boomers – a workplace match made in heaven?

Senior adviser talking with young businesswoman
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Similarities and differences in generations may be key to economic and business success, says Nick Gold, CEO of Jobsite.

Millennials are no longer the new kids on the workplace block. With many now entering their mid-30s, they make up the largest portion of the workforce and hold around 20% of leadership positions. Definitively the generation that is committed to diversity and inclusion, they also face new challenges in filling roles within their companies to ensure diversity, to attract and retain skills and to maintain competitiveness.

With unemployment at a 40-year low and an unprecedented number of new job postings, Jobsite frequently hears from in-house and agency recruiters that it’s taking longer than ever to attract the right candidates.

As Britain prepares to depart from the EU, the pool of readily available talent will shrink, so it may well be time for millennials to reevaluate their diversity agenda and more proactively include baby boomers, who may be on a similar wavelength in terms of what they’re seeking from the workplace.

Greater diversity

Millennials intuitively understand that it’s important to have a workforce that offers a wide range of perspectives and can challenge decision making, where necessary. This leads to better customer understanding, richer idea generation, better products and more effective problem solving.

Many older people today are willing and able to work longer than previous generations.

Organisations also want to retain good talent as the demand for strong science, technology, engineering and financial services skills grows, not lose good people to Silicon Valley. In fact, we in the UK would like to see the success we’ve had in financial services extend to the global digital economy.

Working for longer - an economic win-win?

There is a concern both in government and the private sector about the cost of the ageing population being borne by the economically active, yet many older people today are willing and able to work longer than previous generations. Official figures show that halving the unemployment rate between people aged 50 and State Pension age could see income tax and National Insurance receipts rise by 1% (just under £3 billion).

It could also help to reduce the welfare bill, with £7 billion a year currently being spent on benefits for people aged 50 to State Pension age who are out of work.

Additionally, enabling people to work for longer will give them more time to build up vital savings for retirement – reducing the burden on millennials and so-called ‘Generation Z’ tax payers.

Understanding generational nuances is important but not insurmountable, and there is a lot that each generation can learn from one another

Jobsite’s own research showed that job seekers aged between 55-64 were twice as likely to have been made redundant, and a hefty 38% were likely to be unemployed and are the most probable demographic to be out of work for two years.

Life expectancy and spending pressure has led the government to increase the age of state retirement, which means many workers are being devalued three quarters of the way through their working lives. This is easily preventable.

Getting the mix right

Millennials in control of the hiring process should reflect on the essential and desirable qualities necessary to do the job. They should also focus on promoting their company values to interviewees so that, regardless of age, candidates who share these values will be attracted.

Understanding generational nuances is important but not insurmountable, and there is a lot that each generation can learn from one another – in both hard and soft skills.

Workplace changes are inevitable

There are both similarities and differences in approach with boomers and millennials. For example, older candidates are less likely than millennials to be motivated by salary and career progression, but both are keen on the ability to work remotely (more than 30% of boomers and 80% of millennials are keen on telecommuting) and flexible hours (more than 30% of boomers and 54% of millennials).

Making these types of low-cost changes to your environment could differentiate you from your competitors and attract a more diverse talent pool.

Generation Z, who are now entering the workforce, have their own pressures and concerns, including higher rate student debt, so their work needs and preferences will need to be adjusted by employers accordingly.

Attracting and hiring older people can lead to positive changes in the workplace. We have already seen companies adapt policy to accommodate parenting, specific religious holidays, multilingual staff and other elements of diversity. It will be an interesting journey for us all as older people are incentivised to actively participate in the workplace.

 

About Nick Gold

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