Multigenerational Workforce

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Managing a Multigenerational Workforce

Monash University

Jason Cheah


A multigenerational workforce can present many challenges for organizations of today and are fast becoming a prominent issue for Australian HR managers. An ageing workforce and continual technological innovation are the main reasons attributing to the issues associated with a multigenerational workforce. To remain competitive organizations will need to utilize such a workforce to their advantage and this can be achieved through effective human resource development. The differences between generations are known to occur due to major influences in the environment in which early human socialization occurs (Macky, Gardner & Forsyth, 2008). These influences can impact on a range of factors of an individual including personality, values and beliefs, which will generally remain stable throughout adulthood (Westerman & Yamamura, 2007). The changing nature of the socio-cultural environment will also influence generational differences as individuals of different generations will have been exposed to different events and experiences during their developmental years (Beaver & Hutchings, 2005). A multigenerational workforce is an issue that cannot be ignored and the challenge then for organizations is to be able to manage, develop and maintain an effective multigenerational workforce. HR departments will need to recognize the demographics of their workplace and to implement an organizational culture that values and rewards diversity (Holland & De Cieri, 2006). This article will aim to address the issue of a multigenerational workforce and its impacts on Australian organizations and HRD. Using the case study of Mixed Ages Technology Corporation (MATC), the challenges and issues presented by managing and developing older and younger employees will be discussed. Then a brief summary of the case study will be followed by a discussion of strategies best suited for MATC to improve the morale of multigenerational workforces and HR’s role in improving efficiency between the Baby Boomers and the Generation Y workforce

Issues and Challenges of Baby Boomers

The global trend of an ageing workforce and government policy directions towards reversing early retirement trends raises the issue of the costs to employers with an ageing workforce (Brooke, 2003). Recently Australian government policies are being directed towards retaining older workers and reducing costs of pensions, health costs of retirees and superannuation payments; which are estimated to cost the country $46 billion between 2000 and 2031 (Brooke, 2003). This is having a direct impact on Australian organizations as an increase in age of their workforces creates an increase of the human resource costs associated with older workers, consequently making older workers more expensive to employ (Patrickson & Hartmann, 1995). However another worrying factor of a mature age workforce force is that with the impending retirement of the baby boomers; organizations will lose a wealth of experience, knowledge and skills that will be extremely hard to replace (Jorgensen, 2005). Difficulty in replacing such skill and experience can be attributed to Australia’s low fertility rate, and therefore a reduced supply of younger workers joining the workforce and the increasing skill shortages (Anonymous, 2006). This will lead to an increase of competition for talent and Jorgensen (2005) believes that organizations must look at new ways of retaining older workers and to make better use of their skills and experiences. Organizations will have an increased need to retain older workers by creating career paths to help older workers to break out of career plateaus, and to retrain those whose skills have become outdated (Holland & De Cieri, 2006). Organizations that fail to address the ageing workforce issue risk future staff and skill shortages. The key to managing ageing workers is to actively...
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