Differences in ages, or generations often tend to be unnoticed in creating inclusive workplaces. While many companies focus on improving diversity and inclusion, age-based stereotypes remain across industries and organisations of every size. Often, when companies focus on improving diversity, they focus on metrics like gender or ethnicity. Understanding and managing generational differences in the workplace requires the same approach as improving any other type of diversity.
Intergenerational practice can be considered as a process where people from different generations participate in activities aimed at goals with mutual benefits, and through this process the participants maintain a conducive relationship based on sharing. All these aspects are of immense value to any organisation or a workplace for successful operation. Yet, there’s a common misconception that dealing with different generations in the workplace requires lots of conflict management. However, understanding generational differences in the workplace are no different from any other approach to creating an inclusive working environment. Like any type of diversity, adding members of different generations to an organisation can bring many benefits. People of different ages bring different viewpoints to the table, helping to increase innovation and creative problem-solving. Intergenerational mentoring (and reverse mentoring) can lead to rewarding career development and increase employee retention. Generational diversity can also help companies better understand a diverse customer base. Members from different generations bring diverse perspectives to the workplace and reflect different life expectations, which is helpful in attracting a broader customer base.
Intergenerational practice is attracting interest as an approach to community development, through social inclusion and cohesion. It facilitates building active and sustainable communities based on mutual respect and social inclusion. It tends to remove barriers that prevent people from different generations participating in activities or decision making that affect their lives. For example projects such as neighbourhood regeneration and environment conservation facilitate intergenerational practice and bring benefits to all generations living in the neighbourhood.