Tuesday, April 18, 2006

Keeping Pace with Managing Multigenerational Workforces

"Managing multigenerational workforces is an art in itself. Young workers want to make a quick impact, the middle generation needs to believe in the mission, and older employees don't like ambivalence." Eric J. McNulty, managing director of Harvard Business School Publishing's conference division, suggests that companies must recognize new attitudes among their workers: "They must acknowledge that new relationships will exist between employees and organizations. And they must open themselves up to revisiting assumptions about which workers are appropriate for which roles and to rethinking the ways in which they hire, motivate, and retain employees." In particular, he recommends looking at the advice of Tamara Erickson and Bob Morison of The Concours Group, who have done extensive research on the changing workforce and the age-based cohorts that compose it.
  • Workers under 35: One should rapidly place younger workers into responsible roles to get the most out of these workers before they move on.
  • Workers between 35 and 54: Middle cohort workers may have to stay in their roles longer because the cohort ahead of them is retiring later and there are also fewer replacements coming up from below. They need to be reengaged through fresh assignments, mentoring, and knowledge-sharing roles, and even through career switches within the company.
  • Workers 55 and over: Companies should get serious about recruiting and retaining older workers for both entry-level and highly skilled work. Ferret out and eliminate the tacit age bias that often exists in hiring and development processes, and craft roles that leverage the expertise of older workers. Think of retirement as an opportunity to keep talent around rather than as a way to phase people out.
Source: "Can You Manage Different Generations?" Harvard Business School Working Knowledge Newsletter (April 17, 2006)

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