Welcome to the five-generation office

Six basic principles for managing and motivating employees of very different ages.

Welcome to the five-generation office
According to the World Health Organisation, if you’re healthy at 60, you’ll be able to work into your mid 70’s. That’s not to say you’d necessarily want to, but as career paths change, so do attitudes to retirement, with the result you may already be managing workers of several generations. In fact, the Harvard Business Review predicts over the next few years we could be seeing five generations working together for the first time.  Daunting as this may be, these guidelines from the HBR's Rebecca Knight may be enough to stop your office descending into a Boxing Day family argument.

Principles to remember

  •   Experiment with mixed-age teams and reverse mentoring programs that enable older, experienced workers to interact with and learn from younger hires
  •   Develop incentive plans that reflect where your employees are in their lives
  •   Conduct regular human resources surveys to get a pulse on your employees’ demographics and needs
  •   Bother with generation-based employee affinity groups — they generally reinforce stereotypes
  •   Act like a top-down manager — forge partnerships with employees of different ages and encourage them to share their opinions
  •   Assume you already know how to motivate employees who are older or younger — ask them what they want out of their professional lives
Read the HBR’s original article here, and the HBR’s predictions on mixed-generation offices here.