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The Importance of Age Diversity

Feb 17 , 2020

Woman presenting information to a few colleagues.

Just as it's important to have gender and ethnic diversity in the workplace to spur innovation, creativity, and a more significant variety of ideas and viewpoints, it's also essential to have age diversity in the workplace.

Each generation of workers currently in the workforce - Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Generation Z - has unique experiences to offer that are valuable and needed in order to have an optimally functioning workplace. Even the drawbacks many people typically associate with each generation can be turned into strengths if approached in the right way. 

For instance, many Baby Boomers, now aged 60 to 75, don't understand or adapt to new technologies as easily as their younger counterparts. On the other hand, Baby Boomers often have a wealth of background knowledge independent of technology that can be invaluable to less-experienced workers. 

Generation X has typically been a more skeptical generation, but this can be a strength if they apply their healthy skepticism to aspects of the workplace that need critical evaluation and an openness to change. Millennials are often accused of having short attention spans, but their tendency to shift focus often can make them more adaptable in situations where change is usually constant. 

Learning and Working

When you put several generations of workers together, it may seem like a recipe for disaster. How are such different people going to work well together and form a cohesive unit? Research shows, however, that it's not only possible for different generations to work together, but it's also actually more productive when they do. 

Productivity, innovation, and problem-solving are all improved in age-diverse teams. Studies have consistently shown that any kind of diversity makes a company more effective overall. Age diversity is no different in that it forces people to think about work differently and to accommodate different perspectives, making everyone more experienced and able to see things in more than one way.

Two men shaking hands.

And here's something else: retention in age-diverse workplaces is also higher than in those where most workers are around the same age. This could be because workers age 55 and up tend to be more loyal to a workplace and switch jobs less than younger workers. 

Overcoming Age Discrimination

Two-thirds of older workers (45 to 74) report that they have experienced workplace discrimination for a variety of reasons. In some cases, employers don't want to pay higher wages to workers with decades of experience. In others, workers don't have updated skills like facility with computers or may have health concerns or disabilities to contend with. 

In any case, hiring teams need to be aware of age discrimination and guard against it when they recruit workers. Older workers may be challenging in some ways, but younger workers are equally challenging in different ways. Being willing to hire older workers or retain them will bring more benefits than challenges, and can also be a way to source underused talent and ability. 

GDH offers help with every aspect of the hiring process. Contact us for more information about the variety of recruiting services we offer.