Generation management: Only together we are strong

Generation management: Only together we are strong

Diversity Concept

The demands of the labor market are becoming increasingly complex: parts of the workforce are retiring later and later, while some new entrants are younger than they have been for a long time. Without an appropriate corporate structure, chaos and conflicts are pre-programmed. This makes well-developed generation management all the more important.

In 2019, LinkedIn conducted a survey of 7,089 HR professionals and HR decision makers. 89% of respondents said they believe a multigenerational workforce makes companies more successful. There are good reasons for this.

From a company’s perspective, a multigenerational workforce makes sense for several reasons. On the one hand, it is the right response to demographic change. The German population is aging visibly, while fewer and fewer children are being born. This poses a major challenge to the economy and the first companies are already feeling the effects, which will become even more acute in the coming years. Following on from this, the shortage of skilled workers is also continuing to increase, making the situation even more precarious. On the other hand, people of all generations offer a lot of potential that companies can take advantage of.


Best of all

Many companies see the future in young people in particular. Rightly so, because these bring many qualities. For example, they provide new, fresh ideas and are (at least physically) more efficient or resilient. At the same time, they have a great deal of expertise in digital topics and techniques, usually have very good foreign language skills, and are usually able to familiarize themselves very quickly with new methods and topics.

For all the praise given to younger generations, people often give the impression that they work less efficiently as they get older. But this assumption is wrong, because older people have not less, but only different qualities. The particular strengths of many older employees include strategic thinking, deliberate action, eloquence, a high degree of responsibility and, above all, experience. This experience can be a great advantage, especially when dealing with customers and taking on management tasks.


Not only live in the here and now

The problem: Small and medium-sized companies in particular still lack awareness of the new challenges of the labor market and current recruiting trends. In a survey conducted by the Institute for SME Research (IfM), 11,000 small and medium-sized enterprises were asked about demographic change, among other things. Although most companies with five or more employees had heard the term before, only about one in three stated that they dealt with the issue more intensively. Instead, the recruiting strategy is usually based on the current labor market situation without taking future challenges into account. The approach to problem solving also shows the short-sightedness of many companies. Most companies are planning to recruit more younger employees, but they are ignoring the fact that the number of Generation Z children and young people is already manageable and that the war for talent will continue to increase in view of the shortage of skilled workers.


Generation management as a solution

It is therefore crucial to establish good generation management now in order to present oneself as an attractive employer and to be prepared for the challenges of the future. There are several ways to do this: One option is to emphasize mixed-age teams and thus utilize the strengths of young and old. Another possibility is so-called generation tandems. Here, experienced and inexperienced employees come together over a longer period of time to learn from each other. These opportunities promote the transfer of knowledge between generations, which is a key success factor for companies.

Managers in particular are also in demand here as mediators. It is their duty to ensure that a pleasant learning and discussion atmosphere is created and that the different age groups treat each other with mutual respect. The factor of lifelong learning should also not be disregarded, both for individual development and for general corporate development. For example, there should be training courses that are interesting for all participants or that are geared to the respective needs. In addition, managers should be aware that tasks are not only completed according to rigid specifications and rules, but that room is given for other and new approaches to solutions. It is equally important to convey the meaningfulness of a job and to ensure that no one feels like a “second-class” employee.


It all depends on the team

Focusing on your own employees is also important in view of the war for talent. Companies that respond to and accommodate the needs of their workforce are perceived as more attractive employers. They convey to potential candidates that they have their best interests at heart. This includes, among other things, flexible working models, appropriate benefits and adapted work premises.

In order for a company to be successful in the long term, all generations must be brought on board. To achieve this, it is important that everyone feels respected and valued and that their potential is recognized and promoted. Companies must strike a balance between retaining the knowledge of experienced employees and being open to new impulses and ways of working from younger employees.

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