A new call for diversity: embracing the multigenerational workplace

What’s the value of a multigenerational workforce?

It should be a no-brainer, but as many looking for work in their fifth, sixth and seventh decade of life know, finding a role where age isn’t held against you can be an uphill climb. Just as the green and new are punished for not knowing enough, it seems those on the opposite side of experience encounter their own tax. Creative agencies are typically overrepresented in younger demographics, with only a few older people at the top.

Interrupt breaks this mold, and I believe it’s a crucial model. In our office, we span generations, from Gen Z to Baby Boomers. Our roles vary across IT, digital, strategy, project management, design and writing. This mix of ages and responsibilities fosters strong work relationships and rich mentoring opportunities. While businesses nationwide strive for diversity, age remains a largely overlooked aspect. Conversations tend to focus on gender and race, but a team with a wide range of life and work experiences is incredibly powerful. A multigenerational team is a key differentiator, too often ignored.

Here are five advantages of a multigenerational workplace from my perspective:

1. Your company speaks more “languages.”

This is probably the most important strength of all. A multigenerational team is better equipped to understand multigenerational customers. At Interrupt, our business is focused on the building materials industry. Knowing that Baby Boomers are still the largest percentage of homeowners in the U.S., it’s important to us that we be able to speak with them as well as we speak to millennials and Gen Z’ers. A diverse team that’s representative of different life stages is surely better equipped to take a photograph with a wider lens, so to speak, and communicate with these varying audiences with more authority.

2. 360-degree innovation becomes possible.

People from different generations have unique life experiences, cultural influences and ways of thinking shaped by the way they grew up. A team with wide age representation brings with it a mix of traditional wisdom and cutting-edge ideas that lead to more innovative branding strategies. Older team members bring in-depth wisdom; they can also share previous failures and successes. Younger employees bring vital agility, flexibility and tech savvy. Having both far outpaces having only one or the other.

3. Employee satisfaction is enhanced.

Feelings of wellbeing and confidence are such an important component of an effective workplace. That doesn’t come from hosting a pizza party. When different views, perspectives and experience levels are valued, there’s naturally an enhanced sense of community in the workplace. Embracing age and experiential diversity has that effect.

4. Mentorship opportunities are richer.

Mentoring laterally among closer age and experience levels of course has its value, but it’s only scratching the surface when compared to building a network of mentors across age groups. Older team members can mentor younger members on things such as client relationship building, leadership and strategic thinking. Younger team members can show the older members how to look at things with a new approach and educate on the latest trends.

5. The “bench” becomes deeper.

When I ran my own consultancy, I used to tell my team, "As you climb the ladder of success, reach behind you and pull the next one up!" My team knew when a position was opened, I was looking internally first. You can often diversify your staff just by ensuring the people inside your office have upward mobility and opportunities to do more, no matter their age. You hire and retain more effectively when people from 22 to 62 feel they have some kind of near-term, and possibly longer-term, future with you.

The final word

It’s my hope that as we revolutionize workplace hiring to be more inclusive, that we don’t lose sight of age diversity. Establishing a goal of embracing a workforce that includes people of all ages isn’t just a worthwhile ethical cause—it’s a strategic business move that puts you ahead of the competition.

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