Guest blog by IainThomson, Director of Incentive & Recognition at Sodexo Engage
Many businesses seem to have made it their mission to attract millennials and Gen Z workers,but they really need to think about how to make their older employees happy too.Workers over 50 are now a major contributor to employment levels in the UK and there’s no sign of this stopping. With that in mind, there are lots of things that companies can do to make sure that both older and younger work forces remain happy at work.
Looking at the job role
The world of work has changed dramatically in recent years – and mostly for the better. For one, it’s become far more meritocratic. These days people tend to be promoted and given more opportunities based on their skill and achievement instead of how many years they’ve got under their belt. And as a result, staff are much more driven in the workplace, since they know that they’ll be recognised for their work so long as they work hard.
But at the same time, businesses probably have lots of employees who are used to waiting a few years for a promotion – so it’s easy to see where things can get tricky. It’s here that HR departments may need to manage any friction caused when managers are younger than the more junior team members.
It may only be a couple of years, but this age difference can actually be a tricky thing to respond to. It’s not about teaching the juniors to suck eggs, though –it’s more about developing a culture of mutual respect – whether it’s through fun work socials, team building activities or training. This way, staff at every level will grow to appreciate each other’s input and will be more excited to collaborate.
They say that age is just a number, but that’s only partly true; there are some key differences that come with age. For example, older employees are probably more likely to be married, have children and may need to juggle a number of priorities outside work. Without support from senior management and HR, this can cause a lot of stress for staff who are being pulled in multiple directions.
While younger staff may generally have fewer priorities outside of work, this can still create increased stress levels – but in completely different ways. If left unchecked, these employees can often be tied to their desks, unwilling to leave the office at a reasonable time or to establish a positive work-life balance.
Both of these approaches to work aren’t sustainable or healthy. As such, businesses need to find ways to ensure that all employees – regardless of their age – feel engaged, motivated and, above all, happy.
Something for everyone
To make sure that employees – both young and old – feel engaged, the company needs to make sure that it’s offering the same kind of opportunities to everyone. Giving employees a healthy work life balance through flexible or remote working options can be a great start. Regardless of their age, most employees will love the chance to work in a way that suits them.
Once benefits like these are in place, it’s then a case of establishing more tailored offers to different types of employees. Those who have kids may enjoy receiving childcare support or even an onsite nursery. Meanwhile,married staff or those in long-term relationships may prefer cinema vouchers or discounts at some major stores. It’s all about making sure everyone is provided for so that staff of all ages, backgrounds and levels can benefit.
Regardless of their generation, age or background, employees should be given the flexibility and opportunity to work as effectively as possible in their role. Doing so will not only result in improved interactions between staff, but will also create a better all-round attitude within the business.