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Leveraging the Strength of an Age-Diverse Workforce

by Brian Bjorgum, Associate Recruiting Partner

For the first time in history, we have five different generations in the workplace at one time: Traditionalists (born 1925-1945), Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964), Generation X (born 1965-1980), Millennials (born 1981-2000), and Generation Z (2001-2020)(Purdue University). That makes for a lot of diversity in opinions, ideas and experiences—as long as your company takes advantage of them.

Regardless of which group you are in, you might find yourself collaborating and communicating across generations at the office. If so, your company has some powerful opportunities if they know how to capitalize on them. But companies that don’t take advantage of the range of experiences and ideas brought forth from an age-diverse workforce can fall behind.

If your company can employ diverse hiring practices and leverage these employees’ respective strengths, styles and experiences, you may just find yourselves outperforming and outlasting your competition. So let’s look at how your organization can understand and get the most out of these differing groups of employees.


Generation Z: Appealing to the Up-and-Comers

Gen Zs want a company that provides formal training, challenging work and a competitive salary. Larger companies are having more success meeting Gen Z goals based on their ability to afford the necessary resources. Gen Z is also more intrigued by or drawn to working for larger companies because of their prestige and ability to offer what this generation values most.(Accenture Strategy) If you’re a smaller company, this shouldn’t deter you from trying to attract Gen Zers. It just may take more creativity and effort in how you promote your company culture and the day-to-day activities that go on in your organization.

At Grey Search & Strategy, we work with a lot of smaller-but-growing companies that lack the name recognition larger companies may have, what they offer could be much more attractive to Gen Z than they know. Smaller organizations can offer the ability to wear multiple hats and keep employees from getting “siloed”—a common occurrence in larger organizations. This could scratch a Gen Zer’s itch of wanting challenging work or varying projects.

Gen Zers are digital natives that can step into a smaller organization and implement valuable initiatives such as social media taking the lead on implementing new technology for the company. With Gen Z putting emphasis on collaboration and communication, a smaller organization can also provide broader access to individuals in other departments or at higher levels, increasing the ability to spread ideas and innovations.


Mature Workers: The Value of Experience

“Mature workers” are those in the workforce ages 50 and up. This include Traditionalists, Baby Boomers and part of the Generation X population. These individuals are partly motivated by loyalty, teamwork and “earning your stripes.” They prefer to communicate in whatever style is most efficient, whether by phone, face-to-face or otherwise. (Purdue University)

So how can your company benefit most from mature workers? These individuals can bring key institutional knowledge from their experience professionally and personally. Mature workers use that experience to hit the ground running, helping your company cut down on training time. From a hiring perspective, you can reduce the likelihood of unfilled positions by opening the specifications of job descriptions to attract mature workers. And they can serve as valuable mentors to younger professionals.

For the workers themselves, they are given the opportunity to do meaningful work later in their careers. And providing them resources to update their skills in areas like technology can offer them fresh inspiration and engagement in their work.

Building an Age-Diverse Workforce

Below are just a few ways your company can implement programs or resources that will bring you the benefits of an age-diverse workforce:

  • Open apprenticeships to workers of all ages
  • Start a program to assist workers re-entering the workforce after a long absence
  • Facilitate cross-generational mentoring to improve knowledge transfer
  • Raise awareness of intergenerational differences to enhance team functioning
  • Organize employee resource groups that increase workers’ engagement and provide mentoring opportunities. These groups may evolve into problem-solving or leadership-development groups
  • Actively recruit talent across all ages to build a diverse, experienced workforce

Many companies across industries have implemented these initiatives and found success. And your company can customize them to fit your culture and organization. A crucial key to success? Holding leadership and management accountable for implementing the programs and providing the necessary resources to be successful.


Helping You Get There

When Grey is helping you find fantastic talent, we focus more on “fit” than just “fill.” Identifying someone that matches your culture, not just some bullet points on paper. And that fit can come from a variety of generations.

To help you leverage age diversity, we help you identify the best candidate fit in multiple ways:

  • Implementing more inclusive language on job descriptions
  • Deep vetting on experience and personality characteristics
  • Thoroughly understanding who you are as a company and a culture
  • Understanding employees’ work styles and motivators
  • Going beyond social media to identify and attract mature workers


Grey Search + Strategy believes that the greatest fit between candidates and companies is found by going beyond resumes and references. We explore that grey area for a more strategic approach on what impacts your hiring and recruiting efforts. If you’re ready for an expert recruiting partner with a better approach to delivering stronger candidates and better results, drop us a line today!

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