In many countries, governments are raising the retirement age to contain pension and welfare costs. Today’s workers are going to have to work to a ripe, old age. (Since, generally, people are healthier and fitter than they were 30 or 40 years ago, this is not necessarily a bad thing.)
It does mean, however, that, increasingly, organisations will have a more diverse workforce – in terms of age. Millenials and generation X workers will be working with – and perhaps crossing swords with – older colleagues (generation A?).
There is a natural difference in the working styles, preferred communication styles and general attitudes of different generations. This can cause interpersonal tension and personality clashes which can result in lower performance.
However, some firms have realised there is also an upside, a potential for increased innovation. The different generations bring different experiences, thought processes and viewpoints to the table – which can expand and extend the range of ideas being brought to bear on a problem or opportunity.
To ensure the organisation moves from ‘tension’ to ‘potential’ requires a strong, pervasive culture and awareness of mission and vision which focuses all minds on the ‘prize’ and keeps everyone moving in the same direction. It also requires supervisors, team leaders and managers to have the interpersonal skills to manage this varied workforce.
So, you’d better start preparing your organisation now. Even if you have a monoculture, single generation workforce you will still benefit from a review and strengthening of culture which focuses and drives thought and activity in pursuit of the shared mission.