Tips for Managing an Age-Diverse Workforce

John Krautzel
Posted by in Career Advice

Today's workforce is stocked with employees of all ages, from millennials to baby boomers. Managers have to learn to deal with and adapt to the different mindsets, work habits, values and communication styles of each generational group. Consider these tips for managing an age-diverse workforce.

Promote Work-Life Balance

It is important for employees to be able to separate their work lives from their personal lives. Employees have different values and responsibilities at each stage of their lives. Offering a flexible work schedule or comp time benefits employees of all age groups, whether they are baby boomers taking care of ailing parents, Gen Xers facing their own health problems or millennials tending to their young families.

Offer Employee Enrichment Opportunities

Give all your employees the chance to enhance their knowledge and skills. When employees are offered self-enrichment opportunities, they feel valued and are more satisfied with their jobs, improving workplace morale and decreasing turnover rates. Require all managers to attend training that helps them identify generational differences and adapt to them.

Focus on Communication

While communication strategies differ among all generations, the central idea of a strong communication network is important to everyone in your workforce, regardless of their ages. Avoid making communication too standardized or formal within your organization, as it can be restricting. Allow employees to work on teams to open up the dialogue and recognize each others' strengths.

Nurture Employee Relationships

Encourage employees to bond and socialize by planning casual social activities, such as luncheons. Promoting social relationships between your employees leads to a friendlier and more enjoyable work environment for the entire workforce.

Recognize Differences in Learning Styles

Employees of all age groups prefer to learn in different ways, so accommodate their needs. Millennials often prefer technology-based learning platforms with the opportunity for interaction, while baby boomers opt for traditional learning methods, such as handbooks and PowerPoint presentations.

Engage Your Workforce

Empower and motivate your employees by making them feel valued and appreciated. Ask older workers to mentor newer employees to share trade secrets and impart job-specific knowledge, and allow younger workers to take on challenging assignments that provide job satisfaction.

Celebrate Employee Achievements

Recognize the hard work of all your employees, whether the achievements are the result of team efforts or individual work. Send out a simple email to acknowledge success or distribute inexpensive achievement awards. This show of appreciation helps to improve the morale of employees of all ages.

There isn't one perfect way to manage your entire workforce. With each generation comes a new set of workers with personalities and work styles all their own. The key to managing an age-diverse workforce lies in recognizing the generational differences to address the values and expectations of each group.

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  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks again for the great comments. I agree that companies should try to hire employees from different age groups in order to have a more diverse workforce. So true that we can learn from each other and thus help the company to reach their goals as well as to personally gain valuable knowledge and skills. Remember, though, that you shouldn't attach an age on to knowledge. For example, that gray haired guy who sits in the next cube might run circles around that young college graduate when it comes to skills and knowledge. Just because the person is older doesn't mean that they are not up on the latest technology. It is true @Lorri that pairing a newby with a senior person would be a win-win for the company and the employees. Maybe the senior person didn't understand everything about social media while the younger worker cut her teeth on technology and was running circles around her parents by the time she was 5! Great pairing for all parties. If only we could get companies to come along with our ways of thinking!

  • Lorri Cotton
    Lorri Cotton

    Having an age-diverse workforce is more of a pro than a con. You have the older and wiser employees, who can model excellent work ethic to the younger generations, Schools aren't preparing young people for college so well, and role models with experience, who act as mentors, make a great difference in the mindset of the younger worker. I think a program that pairs an older worker with a younger worker, is a great way to get "newbies" into corporate form.

  • Tara Avery
    Tara Avery

    For me, the importance of encouraging a life-work balance is imperative, and yet it's something I think tends to get downplayed or forgotten. All too often, work takes center stage, and the expectation that work is the most important aspect of a person's life is pretty pervasive. I can't tell you how many times I've been out socially only to have people around me checking their phones and replying to work-related emails off the clock. I really hope suggestions like these take root in more workplaces.

  • Amelia Freeman
    Amelia Freeman

    I'd love to see companies stock a small library to help with enrichment. As someone who isn't even what is normally considered middle age, college graduates only a year or two ahead of me have a better understanding of useful online platforms. I've worked training people only thirty or forty, still decades away from retirement, who had no familiarity with useful tools ranging from linkedin to github to wordpress, all things that have For Dummies or Teach Yourself or other useful series of books. It wouldn't be hard to have a shelf or two of those relating to whatever the latest, trendiest thing is.

  • William Browning
    William Browning

    The self-enrichment opportunities are probably one of the most important benefits a company can offer. Imagine an employer willing to pay tuition for employees to take classes to learn new skills. Younger employees can take leadership classes or older employees can learn the latest tech trends. The idea is that it is a volunteer-based program as opposed to a requirement to keep your job, which means workers can take these opportunities if they want. It's important for companies to offer incentives for people to take advantage of self-enrichment opportunities such as a pay raise, promotion, more time off or a new job title.

  • Jacqueline Parks
    Jacqueline Parks

    I agree that a diverse workforce representing many age brackets has many advantages over a homogeneous workforce, and these are great tips for meeting the needs of employees of every age. I also recommend avoiding stereotyping by asking employees directly about their needs. Entrance and exit interviews, and both personal and anonymous surveys are great ways to get feedback to ensure the perks and culture at a business serve each employee regardless of the stage of life the employee is currently in.

  • Jay Bowyer
    Jay Bowyer

    An age-diverse workplace is such a great gift in any company. I found it much easier to market to a wider age-centric demographic when I had input from a multi-generational group of employees. None of us are ever too old to learn, so training courses for all are an absolute must!


    I appreciate the tips in this article on how to foster the best work environments for people of all ages. I think that every age group has unique experiences, attributes and skill sets that are vital to workplaces. I think discussion on work-life balance was especially poignant. Employers need to offer employees flexible hours, time off or the ability to work from home sometimes because you never know what life will throw your way- baby, illness in the family or dealing with your own health problems. This practice ensures that companies won't lose good employees just because of uncontrollable life events.

  • Nancy Anderson
    Nancy Anderson

    Thanks for all of the great comments and opinions. Socialization is important throughout our lives. We started socializing as an infant and it should continue. Companies realize that socialization is important but, in many cases, they just can't afford to do things like they have in the past. Spending a few minutes in the break room getting to know a little bit about a coworker is invaluable. Having planned social events costs more but, in my humble opinion, it pays great dividends going forward. That old tech guy who always seems to be staring at his computer and muttering could turn out to be the life of the party in a different setting. You never know until you try it. Encourage your workplaces to have social events. It doesn't have to cost a lot. How about discount tickets to a sporting event where the team sits and cheers together. I have worked for companies that have a "birthday" event where they celebrate all those who have a birthday in that month. I have attended many such get togethers and had the opportunity to speak with and get to know my coworkers who work in departments that are outside of my purview. We should try it and see what happens. I know that @Beyond, they love to socialize and take advantage of any opportunity that they can - from birthday celebrations, to celebrating spring with the first cookout, to celebrating holidays and even to having sporting events where they compete against each other - all in good fun, of course.

  • Jacob T.
    Jacob T.

    As important as it is for managers to receive training about the differences in approach among different generations, I feel it is just as important to have the same resources available to peers. It is too easy for resentment to build for somebody requesting more flex time or needing some kind of accommodation that is simply a function of where they are in their lives at that moment, rather than an employee requiring special treatment.

  • Sylvia L.
    Sylvia L.

    Like the author mentions, it's important to encourage social opportunities among staff. That said, I think it's important to branch out with diverse activities. For younger employees, a luncheon might not be the most inspiring way to encourage communication. A scavenger hunt or team building activity or ice cream party might be more conducive to building social relationships.

  • Cory L.
    Cory L.

    The most important thing , and one that doesn't seem to be mentioned, is giving employees time to socialize in the first place. It also has to be an environment in which that socialization can flourish. It's one thing to engage with other generations in a work environment, but another entirely to get to know them in a rec room or over a game of pool. Employees need space to socialize!

  • Shannon Philpott
    Shannon Philpott

    All of these strategies are beneficial for any age. I think, though, that employers should focus on addressing diversity versus differences specific to age. For example, I have worked with both people younger than me and older; however, I noticed the most prominent differences in personality, work ethic and skill levels. None of these habits/practices had anything to do with age, in my experience.

  • Katharine M.
    Katharine M.

    In my experience, the best way to make work a pleasant place is encouraging socialization. I've actually worked in places where it was frowned upon, and those were just such unpleasant environments. But at offices that have pizza lunches, happy hours etc, the employees always manage to find common ground and it makes everything so much easier. I can see that this would be especially important in an age-diverse workplace where people might not think they have much in common with coworkers.

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