Blog Img

​Unlocking the Power of a Multigenerational Workforce

Back to Blogs

The modern workplace is undergoing a revolution. No longer dominated by a single generation, our offices and teams now hum with the energy and experience of a multigenerational workforce. From tech-savvy Gen Z to seasoned Baby Boomers, this rich tapestry of backgrounds, perspectives, and talents presents both challenges and opportunities for businesses. But how can we harness the power of this diversity and ensure everyone feels valued and engaged?

Understanding Ageism: A Barrier to Progress

Ageism, like other forms of discrimination, has a detrimental impact on individuals and businesses alike. Shockingly, as many as 1 in 3 people have experienced age prejudice and according to the EHRC, people of all ages say that they experience ageism more than any other form of discrimination.

Sadly, ageism is rife in the workplace. It can be seen in everything from overlooking qualified candidates to dismissing valuable ideas simply because of someone's age. The Centre for Better Aging found that over a quarter (27%) of workers have been put off jobs since turning 50 as they sound like they’re aimed at younger candidates; almost a third (32%) believe they have been turned down for a job because of their age; nearly one in five (17%) have or considered hiding their age in applying for a job since turning 50; and two fifths think their age would disadvantage them in applying for a job.

But it isn’t just older workers who are impacted by ageism in the workplace. Young people are often told they are too immature or apathetic to have their opinions and ideas heard. Research by Glassdoor found that workers aged 18-34 were more likely (52%) to have witnessed or experienced ageism at work than their older counterparts (39% aged 55+). In fact, one study found that more than three-quarters of young people experienced some form of ageism at least once in a 4 week period, and more than one-quarter of respondents experienced ageism (on average) at least once per week. Personnel Today have a great blog summarising some high profile cases of age discrimination against young people, including claims relating to salary, inappropriate language and even posting specific job requirements during recruitment processes.

Before we can explore how to unlock the power of a multigenerational workforce, we need to fully understand how expectations and motivations vary across the different age groups.

A chart of different types of jobs  Description automatically generated with medium confidence

Common Challenges Faced By Multigenerational Workforces

No doubt you’re already aware of the significant commercial advantages of a diverse workforce. If you haven’t already, we’d recommend you read the first in our EDI blog series – Is Diversity & Inclusion Dead? – for more insights on investing in EDI as a strategic advantage. 

In order to tap in to the potential of your workforce, you first need to understand where those barriers and pitfalls can occur.

Communication Gaps
As you can see from our infographic, each generation has its own preferred style of communication, as well as varying levels of technological proficiency. Younger workers tend to prefer instant messaging while older employees might favour face-to-face interactions.

Stereotypes & Unconscious Bias
55% of adults in England believe the UK is ageist, which is likely why ageism is often dismissed as a harmless form of discrimination. However these stereotypes can become self-fulfilling, impacting on how people view themselves, their capabilities and the value they can contribute both to the business and society as a whole.

You Can’t Please Everyone
Each generation has differing priorities, expectations and motivations when it comes to work life balance, career progression and culture. Crafting an environment which appeals to as diverse an as range as possible is tricky; we often see businesses trip up in areas such as benefits packages that only meet the needs of a subset of employees.

Intergenerational Tension
A mis-managed multigenerational workforce can lead to misunderstandings and conflicts that ultimately undermine productivity and collaboration. Employees who are much younger than their managers report lower productivity than those closer in age due to a lack of collaboration between employees of different generations, according to new research from the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Strategies For Managing A Generationally Diverse Workforce

The same LSE paper found that 87% of employers working for businesses who embrace intergenerationally inclusive working practices reported higher productivity levels compared to just 58% from their counterparts operating without such strategies in place.

There is good evidence that across generations individuals have different tastes and preferences. So why do we expect them to work easily together? We now have five generations working together in the workplace and the skills that are required to manage these dynamics are not usually being taught by firms.” Co-author of the research Dr Grace Lordan

So, how can you tap in to the full potential of your diverse workforce?

  1. Implement inclusive policies
    Focus on developing inclusive policies that cater to the diverse needs and life stages of all employees, by recognising that individuals have different requirements at various points in their careers and personal lives. Offer a wide range of policies such as flexible work arrangements, phased retirement options, and opportunities for continued learning and development.

  2. Focus on Individual Strengths and Engagement
    Rather than making broad generational assumptions, it’s essential to understand each employees’ unique skills, strengths and preferences. Tailoring engagement strategies to individual needs – while sounding counterintuitive – can foster a more inclusive working environment. It doesn’t have to be complicated; conduct regular check-ins, provide personalised development plans and a ‘pick n mix’ style benefits and perks package allows individuals to focus on what works for them.

  3. Encourage Collaboration and Teamwork
    Help break down stereotypes and nurture mutual understanding with cross-generational collaboration. By working together on shared goals, employees from different age groups can experience the value each brings to the table. Create shared learning experiences through team building activities, cross-functional project teams or mentoring programs.

  4. Provide Training on Age Diversity and Unconscious Bias
    Training programmes like these can raise awareness abut the potential impact of ageism and challenge stereotypes. Taking it a step further by training managers on how to effectively lead and motivate multigenerational teams. Often, people are promoted into managerial positions because they excel at the technical skills of the job, and require support and training on the softer people skills required for their team to truly thrive.

  5. Leverage Reverse Mentoring Opportunities
    Reverse mentoring programmes – where younger employees mentor their more experienced colleagues – can facilitate knowledge sharing and strengthen the team dynamic. A win-win scenario, older workers are kept up to date with emerging technologies whilst younger workers simultaneously learn from the experience of their colleagues.

  6. Gather Employee Feedback
    Soliciting feedback from your workforce can provide valuable insights into their needs, concerns and most importantly, their unique perspectives. Using this data to inform future strategies will strengthen your culture, ensuring an inclusive and engaging environment for all.  Best practice suggests a combination of surveys, focus groups and open forums are best used in tandem to accommodate for all communication preferences.

Embracing the richness of a multigenerational workforce can unlock a wealth of benefits. Organisations often experience increased innovation, productivity, resilience and employee engagement. In an era where talent is the ultimate competitive advantage, businesses that successfully navigate the complexities of a diverse workforce in all its forms will be best positioned to attract, retain and ultimately maximise the potential of their workforce to ensure long-term growth and success.


If you would like to discuss how ageism and discrimination impacts your talent and recruitment strategy, reach out to chat to one of our team on  0161 359 3789 or drop us a note to

​Want to stay up to date on our latest jobs and blogs? Follow us on social!


Photo by fauxels on Pexels