Leading recruitment firm Robert Walters encourages employers to seize and capitalise on the opportunities of an age diverse workforce to avoid potential issues such as age discrimination and intergenerational conflict.
This comes as Robert Walters releases its whitepaper, Generation Gaps, which dispels myths and assumptions about the different working styles and career aspirations of generations.
Robert Walters New Zealand country manager Shay Peters says as people live and work longer, employers will find themselves managing a workforce whose ages range across six or more decades.
“This will bring challenges and opportunities. For instance, it’s often assumed that Baby Boomers aren’t interested in new ways of working, in fact, the research shows the overwhelming majority are. So employers shouldn’t let unconscious bias lead their organisation astray,” said Peters.
In job interviews, almost 74% of Baby Boomers respondents said they had been discriminated against because of their age, while about one in three of Gen Y and Gen X felt their age went against them.
“Age discrimination is felt by all the generations interviewed, however younger and older workers share more in common in terms of working styles and career aspirations than previously thought, and its these commonalities that employers should nurture and develop”, says Peters,
“More than six out of ten professionals in every age group prefer to work collaboratively, instead of alone or with limited contact with others.
“If an employer can get different generations collaborating successfully on learning new processes, then this will be of huge benefit to their organisation,” added Peters.
The Generation Gaps whitepaper revealed that professionals of all ages want to communicate in similar ways with more than half of every generation preferring to talk directly with people – face-to-face, phone or Skype – versus email, text or using other online messaging apps.
“Given this, employers need to structure their workplace to empower people to work in the style they prefer. They need to invest time into understanding what makes their organisation tick, and what motivates their best employees,” recommends Peters.
Salary and benefits is cited by all generations as the most important factor when choosing an employer. “It’s essential that employers know how competitive their remuneration and benefits packages are against rivals,” says Peters.
The whitepaper also found that regardless of age, making an impact and meaningful work, was one of the key drivers for professionals.
Meanwhile, almost 23% of Gen Y professionals say they would leave an employer if they were overlooked for a promotion or pay rise, yet only 14% of hiring managers say their organisation had a programme to fast track young talent. “The whitepaper results certainly indicate that more can be done by employers to harness Gen Y in the workforce and ensure better staff retention,” says Peters.
The main reason professionals leave a role is because of poor leadership.
Professionals rated “being open and honest” as the most important trait of a leader, followed by “recognising performance” (which ranked second equal), yet hiring managers ranked “recognising performance ” fourth as the most valued trait.
“This highlights that it’s important to recruit and train your leaders in the qualities your employees value most and you’re more likely to hold onto your best talent across the generations,” says Peters.
Information about the survey:
Robert Walters’ whitepaper, Generation Gaps, was undertaken in March 2017 and surveyed more than 937 hiring managers and more than 1573 professionals across Australia and New Zealand.
The generations were defined as:
Baby Boomers (born 1946 – 1964),
Generation X (born 1965 – 1979)
Generation Y (born 1980 – 1994).