npm in An Employer's Guide for Managing a Multi-Generational Workforce

As the average life expectancy continues to climb due to medical advancement, and growing inflation and retirement savings concerns loom, people are working longer across the board. In the U.S. specifically, the average age of the workforce has risen from 39 in 2000, to 42 in 2020.

Add to this equation the constant influx of new graduates every year, and you have a rapidly diversifying labor market, with 20-somethings routinely working alongside 60-somethings.

Managers encounter a host of challenges – and benefits – when learning how to manage a multi-generational team. Here’s how you can make the process smoother for all parties involved.

1. Acknowledge the Benefits

For some business leaders, managing older employees alongside entry-level professionals can seem like a stressful endeavor. In reality, there are numerous benefits that you can leverage to help your business thrive.

More seasoned professionals have the experience and industry knowledge to properly train new professionals. They can also provide valuable insight into the changing industry trends on a longer time horizon than younger folks. For long-time clients, having a steady and experienced contact at the firm can also work wonders for the relationship.

All in all, having a larger age range of team members prevents any insular company culture from developing around certain generational trends, which will make your business more inviting and approachable.

2. Develop an Inclusive Hiring Process

Inclusivity has taken the center stage in corporate culture in recent years, and for good reason. Making an effort to ensure every member of your firm feels valued and that they can safely voice their opinions helps drive strong retention and positive corporate culture.

On the hiring front, especially for accounting and finance roles, investing in inclusive practices will help breed cohesiveness among your team, regardless of age. For example, removing candidates names and birthdates from application materials when reviewing resumes will remove bias from the process. There are AI tools available and already in use by some executive search firms that can help complete these tasks fairly.

3. Cater to Various Styles

When sending out a company-wide email, crafting the copy for the website, or engaging in personal conversations at the office, be cognizant of the varying communication and work styles your employees may have. Learning how to effectively manage a multi-generational team involves taking time to understand how each cohort operates, so dedicate yourself to being an active listener.

4. Invest in Team Building

The formation of cliques within your team structure can cause divides and even resentment over time that can undermine collaboration and productivity. Invest in team building activities that are friendly to all ages and backgrounds, and incentivize participation with giveaways and unique experiences. Think outside the box from the typical happy hour and consider a moderate hike, sports game, brewery tour as a way to meld different age groups together.

5. Establish Clear Expectations

Clear communication is something that every employee appreciates – no matter when they were born. From the outset, establish concise and understandable expectations for each new hire. These expectations should relate not only to their work production, but also to how they should treat their coworkers and engage in the workplace. When managing older employees in this regard, take special care to delineate which communication modes are preferred, as well as which tones or subjects are off-limits.

6. Provide Value to All

All in all, managing a multi-generational team is about providing value to every person involved in your business, regardless of age, background, or job function. You must treat your employees in a way that demonstrates your commitment to them and your appreciation for their time and applied skills. As you navigate the changing labor market, always circle back to your value proposition, and make sure it appeals to employees of all kinds.

Discover More Business Insights from Unity Search

The professionals at Unity Search have spent the past 10 years becoming aficionados of the labor market, specializing in creating long-term partnerships. We’ve placed hundreds of top professionals in accounting, finance, tax, IT, and HR roles in the DFW metro area – and we want to help your firm, too. We’ll help you navigate the search process from day one, providing valuable industry insights along the way. Connect with a search partner at Unity today to learn more.