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Managing a multigenerational business

13th Sep 17 3:15 pm

Here’s what you need to know

It’s no secret that companies across the globe are experiencing a seismic shift in their employee demographic. Ageing populations have resulted in an older workforce, with 63.4 per cent of 55 to 64-year olds in the UK currently in employment (according to PWC’s Golden Age Report).

Meanwhile, this September will see another fresh cohort of graduates readying themselves to enter the work place, bringing with them a fresh set of skills and expertise, particularly in tech.

As such, managers of multigenerational businesses are faced with an ever more diverse breadth of employee expectations, views and values, which can have a serious impact on a company’s culture unless measures are put in place to manage such differences.

As the CEO of multi-generational company Maru Group, I have personally witnessed how companies can gain a real advantage from encouraging cross-generational collaboration. Founded as a technology-enabled challenger in the market research sector, Maru depends on both the decades of experience provided by its senior employees, front-line experts with first-hand experience of the tech boom, and the fresh perspectives of our younger workers.

With technology at the heart of our organisation, collaboration drives our innovation, allowing us to empower our advisors with new and dynamic technologies.

The diversity of our employees is central to how we operate as a Group and I firmly believe that hiring across a spectrum of ages, backgrounds and expertise can be a boost to any company as it encourages workforces to employ their differences collaboratively. In light of this, I have highlighted three measures that I would encourage leaders to consider when managing their own businesses in order to embrace diversity and diffuse potential conflict:

1)     Listen to your employees  

As a manager, you cannot assume that all employees will have the same needs, outlook or motivations. As a new generation joins your company, the most important action you can take is to set up an effective system of employee feedback across the organisation.

This can be as simple as anonymous surveys or personal one-on-one sessions; whatever the channel, managers have an obligation to listen to their employees that goes beyond personal development to an organisational imperative.

Only through engaging with your staff and recognising their needs will you be able to effectively balance their demands and ensure that the corporate culture evolves to suit your workforce.

2)     Create a culture of metrics

Valuing staff proscriptively because of their age or level of experience is a sure way to haemorrhage the flow of creativity and innovation. As a manager, you should set up a clear system of measurements to test the processes used by staff, making it easier to recognise and reward accomplishments.

A great example of this can be seen at Amazon, where CEO Jeff Bezos has implemented a particularly successful method in which the performance of the company is tracked against 500 measurable goals, with nearly 80 per cent of them relating to customer objectives, helping to transform Amazon from a simple online book retailer to an organisation dominating the e-commerce sector.

By using data to track productivity, focus will shift away from the merits of age and experience, allowing employees at any level to feel confident in putting forward their ideas.

3)     Embrace attitude not age

At Maru, we embrace the power of tech enablement to build a cutting-edge consumer insights organisation. Thanks to this, we want the company to reflect the notion of going against the norm, being inventive and creative, rather than following the rules.

As such, Maru’s philosophy embraces an ideal attitude above all else. Regardless of their age or experience, all of our staff are encouraged to develop ideas that keep our focus on the consumer, helping to trial and develop our new systems or apps.

By fully embracing this philosophy, we hope to inspire and empower our staff to see themselves as inventors and pioneers in the sector, whether they are our most senior researcher or newest graduate.


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