Most companies know that age diversity in the workplace is critical, but figuring out how to foster collaboration and productivity across generations can be tricky. Professionals of different ages often have unique preferences when it comes to how work should be accomplished, communication with colleagues, and more, and that can create obstacles that stymy productivity and harm outcomes.
Fortunately, there are avenues that can increase the odds of success. If you need to manage age diversity in your teams, here’s what you need to know.
Examining the Current State of Age Diversity in Leadership
When it comes to leadership positions, age diversity remains a challenge. While there’s an increased emphasis on age diversity within organizations as a whole, most leadership roles are dominated by Baby Boomers and Generation X members.
While Millennials are starting to make headway, they aren’t as well represented within the leadership ranks, even though the oldest members of this generation are now over 40 years of age. Additionally, Generation Z is rarely represented at higher levels. While that’s partially due to their young age and reduced experience levels, it means their viewpoint isn’t commonly factored into the decision-making equation.
Essentially, companies don’t always have input from the younger two working generations at the leadership level. That can create a functional disconnect, reducing the odds that company processes, procedures, or norms take into account the perspectives of Millennials and Gen Z.
The Advantages of Having Age Diversity in Leadership Positions
While older company leaders possess a wealth of knowledge, having age diversity in leadership positions provides ample benefits. Younger leaders often bring fresh perspectives with them, and that can lead to greater innovation. Plus, they’re usually more familiar and comfortable with technology, which may cause them to explore avenues older generations might overlook.
By incorporating younger leaders into the mix, you can also foster collaboration and open communication. Many professionals feel more comfortable speaking to colleagues of similar ages, and younger leaders may be more welcoming toward the communication preferences of their cohorts. As a result, ideas can flow more freely.
Having an age-diverse leadership team also creates learning opportunities at the upper levels of the organization. Older leaders can pass down their expertise to the next generation of managers and department heads, while younger leaders can help seasoned leaders remain current when it comes to technology skills, communication trends, and employee preferences among members of their generations.
Finally, age diversity among company leaders can help the organization gain critical market insights. Each generation functionally represents a portion of a unique audience. By having leaders from several generations present, they can share unique viewpoints that may prove valuable when needing to connect with various market segments.
Common Challenges Faced by Older and Younger Leaders
Leaders of all ages can face a variety of challenges, but the nature of them tends to vary significantly. Older leaders may be somewhat resistant to change, particularly when it comes to methods or perspectives that served them well in the past, even if they aren’t ideal today.
Additionally, older workers may struggle when it comes to relating to younger employees. They may not fully understand the needs or preferences of generations below theirs, and that could cause them to make decisions that don’t align with the broader needs of their workforce.
Younger leaders usually experience some difficulty when it comes to gaining respect. Older workers on their team may doubt their expertise or outright resent them simply because the leader is younger, regardless of evidence that shows they’re a capable managers or department head.
Some younger workers may also have trouble breaking through existing hierarchies or otherwise have difficulty navigating organizational politics. How younger generations approach work dynamics simply differs from what older generations do, so younger leaders may find the process daunting since it’s highly unfamiliar.
Strategies For Promoting Age Diversity in Leadership
There are several strategies that are highly effective for promoting age diversity in leadership. Mentorship programs are often ideal, as it allows older and younger leaders to form connections and share expertise. Couple that with succession planning, and younger managers and department heads can even access clear pathways for progression, all while allowing companies to functionally develop a leadership talent pool internally.
Offering training and development courses focused on leadership skills is another way to bridge the generational gap. Make sure older leaders are taught about the generations in their organization, ensuring they can adapt their processes to align with emerging trends. For younger leaders, focusing on foundational leadership skills is an excellent way to create the next set of managers internally.
Embracing hiring practices that promote diversity is also wise. By using resources that help companies connect with job seekers of all ages, it’s easier to cultivate a workforce that’s age diverse, including at the leadership level. Focusing on inclusion is similarly critical, as that can help attract and retain top talent, regardless of their age or generation.
One recruitment method that works well for cultivating an age-diverse workforce is partnering with a recruitment agency. Staffing firms have access to a wide array of talent, including younger and older professionals with robust skills and ample leadership potential. Plus, you’ll receive guidance from recruitment experts to ensure your processes are inclusive, further supporting your hiring and retention goals.
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If you’re ready to harness the power of age diversity in your workplace and want access to exceptional talent, A.R. Mazzotta wants to hear from you. A.R. Mazzotta offers comprehensive, flexible hiring solutions to support the needs of nearly any industry, all while accelerating the hiring process. Request an employee from A.R. Mazzotta today.