Creating synergy in an age diverse workplace can generate large profits.
Managers use these tips to capitalize on age diversity.
There are times the older generation has the most energy, while some of its most admirable maturity and response to adversity has come from the organization’s youngest employees. If there’s one thing to know as a leader, it’s to not make any assumptions based on age or experience levels.
One of the most valuable assets you have as a business leader is exposure to people of all ages, backgrounds, and perspectives.
If building culture through innovation is important to you, here are four tips on how you can leverage age diversity in the workplace.
Recruit Age Agnostic Qualities
Age diversity in the workplace leads to better innovation in the overall company culture. There are certain qualities and traits that cross generations and age brackets. Identify the qualities required within your organization, and recruit specifically for them, regardless of age.
When you start recruiting for specific qualities rather than experience you’ll start to build a cohesive culture. Innovation is driven not by years on a resume but by qualities and traits that are age agnostic.
Often, the best age agnostic traits driving innovation in an organization are positive energy, life perspective, and an intellectually experimental mindset. A company’s best innovation could be borne from these traits.
Sometimes these traits come from the young and under experienced, and sometimes they come from the older veterans. Regardless, don’t lose sight of the message. Innovation is about qualities, not age.
Understand Stimulation vs Stability
Despite years of running a business and being surrounded by people of all age groups, demographics, and socioeconomic backgrounds, many leaders generalize what motivates an employee.
I’m going to do just that.
Generally speaking, everyone is motivated by one of two things regardless of their background or age: stimulation or stability.
Some people are constantly in search of new challenges, new experiences, and new lessons. These are the ones who need stimulation in the work culture.
Others are motivated by consistency, steadiness, and appreciation. These are the ones who look for stability in the work culture.
Both personas are equally important when cultivating an innovative workplace. If you understand this concept, you’ll find ways to constantly reinvent your management approach with fresh ideas for each persona. You’ll also pick up on behavioral signs and feedback from each persona. If you’re smart about it, you’ll use these signs to create innovative ways to keep both happy. Stimulation versus stability. Understand it. Manage accordingly.
It’s incredibly rewarding when the most innovative ideas come from the most unlikely of matches.
Over a month, North 6th Agency tested out a buddy system that matched one employee with another. Typically, the pairs had very little in common. They worked on completely different client accounts, they had completely different work styles, and in most cases they came from completely different age brackets.
Age diversity was among the most powerful and innovative attributes the company’s leaders had experienced. These matches created incredible ideas, a new level of energy, and a unique mix of perspectives. If you’re looking to improve innovation in your work culture, try leveraging the greatest asset you have: age diversity and varying perspectives. Pair, match, and create teams accordingly.
Invest in Coffee
When it comes to innovation in the work culture, there is nothing like good old-fashioned face time with employees of all ages.
A good leader likes to check in periodically with employees of all ages and backgrounds and get some honest feedback.
Are they happy? What motivates them? What can the company do a better job of?
Of course, as the CEO, you’re going to need to be smart about cutting through the clutter of disingenuous feedback to get to actionable information. If you listen closely, you’ll find that some of your best innovation will come directly from the mouths of your employees.
From coffee chats like these, leaders at North 6th Agency discovered what mattered most to both younger and older employees. Fueled by age diversity, the organization adjusted its management approach, policies, and creativity based partly on feedback.
Today, the company would argue it’s better and more innovative as a result.
You can spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on incredible perks throughout the years for your employees. Sometimes, the best money spent is five bucks on a coffee to get honest feedback from employees of all ages. Don’t underestimate the power of face-to-face time or the effectiveness of age diversity.
Matt Rizzetta is the President and CEO of North 6th Agency, Inc. (N6A), a leading brand communications and social media agency based in New York City and Toronto.
Under Rizzetta’s leadership, N6A has been ranked as the #1 fastest-growing agency in the United States in its revenue category by O’Dwyers.
Rizzetta serves as a board member at Iona College, and currently resides in Westchester County, NY with his wife and three daughters.