The Value of Age Diversity in the Workplace

October 22, 2018

 

Some say age is just a number, but with age comes a wisdom and maturity that cannot be taught at a university or workshop. On the contrary, younger professionals bring a new found excitement and ambition to the workplace. The mix of aged wisdom and vibrant youthfulness in the workforce can be of benefit to any company.

 

In an age-diverse workplace, each generation brings various skill sets and ideas to the table. With a staff that is diverse in age, a company will benefit from the technological skills of the younger generations and the in-person communication skills of older generations. The larger knowledge base will allow the company to benefit from a plethora of ideas, giving them an edge over workforces without age diversity. But this isn’t just an advantage for the company, this is also an advantage to the employees. Exposure to diverse opinions and perspectives gives employees a better understanding of the world around them.

 

When a company hires diverse age groups, employees both young and old have the opportunity to gain mentors who can teach them a diverse set of skills. The younger generations can help the older generations better understand the up-and-coming technology that can advance the productivity of a company. The older generations can educate younger generations about traditional business skills, like organization and planning.

 

Age diversity can also help a company meet the demands of the customer. With perspectives from multiple age groups, companies will have a better awareness of the needs of their diverse client base, giving them an edge on other companies with a less diverse workforce.

 

One drawback to a company that promotes a diverse age workforce is the fact that communication between the different age groups might be difficult. The ways in which different ages groups communicate may cause tension amongst a team. All age groups will need to understand their position in a diverse work environment and try to understand the ways in which coworkers from other generations communicate.

 

Another drawback can be found in the personal prejudices held by different age groups. Depending on the era someone grew up in, they could have been taught and exposed to different prejudices. For example, those growing up in the 50s could have been exposed to prejudices against women in the workforce and may feel uncomfortable with women in leadership roles. An easy way to fix these prejudices is for each age group to walk a mile in each other's shoes to better understand the climate of today’s workplace, and if issues escalate, reach out to management or HR.

 

The opportunities to learn and grow in a work environment where employees come from all generations are endless. Although age diversity can cause unforeseen workplace tension, the importance of contrasting perspectives is crucial to a productive workforce.

 

 

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Eastern Michigan University is a comprehensive, co-educational public university in Ypsilanti, Michigan. The university was founded in 1849 as Michigan State Normal School.