How HR Should Approach An Age-Diverse Workplace

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A number of stereotypes exist in today’s HR departments. While a director may be expected to be middle aged, a clerk might be on the verge of his or her golden years. Meanwhile, senior clerks may be expected to be either fresh out of high school or middle aged. This illustrates how age distribution can be unusual in today’s companies. Formerly, older employees would have been in charge of younger ones. With modern age distribution, HR staffs have greater challenges in store.

Eliminating Stereotypes

HR departments would be best served to stop regarding employees in terms of their generations when it drives the use of demeaning labels. However, HR staff can likely expect certain characteristics to be more common among the age groups. For example, those who reached adulthood in the beginning of the 21st century are now in their 30s. Those older than 40 are likely to remain with a company until retirement for social as well as economic reasons. Finally, workers who were born in the 1990s are newcomers to the employment world.

People Are Defined by Their Behaviors

  • Employees who were born shortly after the second world war are likely to work until later than they might have initially expected. They are traditional and have respect for those in charge as well as considerable experience and loyalty to employers.
  • Workers born after the Vietnam War comprise much of today’s workforce. These are today’s managers, in their 40s and 50s, driving today’s economy. They are known for their progressive ideals and supreme leadership when the economy is challenging.
  • Staff born in the 1980s are creators in today’s business world. They were strongly affected by the attacks on the World Trade Center, and their expectations for the future have been shaken. As workers, they require special care to realize their potential.
  • Workers who were born as the personal computer and Internet became popular are self-contained workers who value their gadgets most of all.
  • For HR staff, it’s important to recognize each of these types and work to utilize their strengths and work through problems. The unique needs of each group must be considered in order to do this.

Recognizing Strengths

Diversity can represent strength and value in today’s world, and there’s no doubt that diversity will remain on the scene. With this in mind, HR should talk about how to put diversity to work. Managed effectively, this can be the making of a great team at any company. For the best results, display how the HR department can make a difference by bringing unique skills together in the workplace.

To create an amazing team, unite employees and get them to share skills with one another. Job duties, including social networking, development, analysis and HR payroll software usage are just as important as records, benefits processing, payroll and filing. Build a team that serves as a model for other departments.

Be sure that you don’t interpret all differences to be big ones. One example is the reluctance of skilled trades people to share their skills on the factory floor. With a vigilant manager on site, conflicts can be minimized by encouraging trades people to show their traditional methods to others. Once a tradesperson begins showing historically correct ways of accomplishing things, younger workers are likely to get on board. Encourage younger employees to recognize the value of this knowledge and tradition and bring their new ideas to the table to improve the workplace rather than cause conflicts.

Ideally, HR staff should use its software to model the distribution of ages in the corporate environment. Communications should be crafted to reflect the presence of unique languages, models and needs in the workplace. HR applications are valuable for coordinating cross-training of workers, analyzing output and assessing departments. In these ways, HR staff can turn age into a valuable tool rather than a cause of problems.

Image courtesy of basketman /FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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