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Age Diversity in the Workplace

In: Business and Management

Submitted By mkeister199
Words 1759
Pages 8
Effective Management of the Aging Workforce

OL-500
Southern New Hampshire University
September 10th, 2014

Introduction

The baby boomer generation, those born between 1946-1960, brought forth sweeping changes in society. Not only did the population increase exponentially they also brought forth changes in the social and economic scene. From free thinking to war protests and a drop off from attending conventional religious services the boomers were the first social rebels that challenged the way we live and work. Many of this generation where the first of their family to attend college or some sort of secondary education from high school. The boomers also broke away from traditional workplace conformity and began to chart their own path to success. (Bruce, 2009). This meant longer working hours, less traditional work weeks, and the tendency to become “workaholics”. By doing so many of the boomer generation are now in upper level management of most companies and businesses As the Baby Boomers draw close to retirement age new challenges will arise in the work place. Who will take their place? Is the next generation of workers ready for the challenge? Do they have the same ideals and principles of the outgoing workers? Management is tasked with making this transition as smooth as possible while dealing with an ever growing diverse work force. Technology will play a key role in the sweeping changes facing a workplace as well as older workers trying to learn new ways to do the same tasks they have done a certain way for an extended period of time. How management meets these challenges will determine the long term success of the company.

What changes in employment relationships are likely to occur as the population ages? As the baby boomer generation looms towards retirement a big challenge faced by management will be to fill the rolls voided when the workers walk away. Opportunities will be created for younger workers as employees promote to replace retirees. (Beleiciks, 2014). As the younger workers step into more prominent roles it will be management’s job to help with the transition and assimilation to keep the workplace running as efficiently as possible. During this process old relationships will fade away and new ones will be created. One time peers will now be supervisors or management equals. This is where diversity management can play a key role. As new managers emerge making sure they are aware of the differences and needs of their employees will be key to their long term success. Having a diverse management team will also help workers feel their needs and concerns are acknowledged and made part of the company culture. (Robins & Judge 2012).
Do you think increasing age diversity will lead to new challenges for managers? As the gap in employee age increases so do the challenges presented to management. One significant challenge is managing the work life balance of a multi-generation workforce. With each of these generations it means something different when we refer to work/life. (Bruce, 2009). Management’s job is to make sure the balance is broad enough to cover all generations. One way to promote this is to create social and recreational events outside the office. This can help build rapport and bring employees closer together. Companies can also provide some type of flexibility when it comes to work schedules. The 9-5 work day is becoming a thing of the past. Older employees with certain health issues will appreciate flexibility when it comes to workplace stress. Employees with young families will appreciate the opportunities to spend quality time with their loved ones and not miss important milestones. And younger go-getters will appreciate the change to work a longer day to finish a project without being confined to a 9-5 workday.
What type of policies might lead to charges of age discrimination? Several examples can be brought up when it comes to company policies and age discrimination. Many companies have policies in place based on tenure. Workers will get promoted, be given raises, and rewards such as extra vacation days simply because they have worked at a job for the longest time. In doing so workers with less time on the job will feel that their efforts fall by the wayside. Why work harder and be more productive if the rewards are not there simply due to a matter of years on the job?
One way to combat this is to develop a structured appraisal process that applies values to each employees performance and make that data part of the promotion and wage increase process (Root II, 2014). All employees should be given the same opportunities to earn a promotion, a raise, or a reward based on merit and effort not simply based on how long you have worked at a company. This will increase productivity and put all workers on an even playing field eliminating any feelings or perceptions of unfair advantages.
Another way age discrimination appears is during the hiring process. Many companies still have age listed on a job application. This has led to a resonating effect throughout the job seeking community as well. Unemployed older workers are taking themselves right out of potential jobs by assuming that employers will consider them over qualified and requiring higher salaries, health care, and more training than the job warrants. (Robins & Judge, 2012 pg. 63)
A simple way to eliminate this is to remove date of birth from any form that does not require it. Potential employees need to be given equal opportunity to apply for the job openings and should be hired based on whose abilities most closely match the job requirements. As long as someone is capable of doing the job age should never be a factor.
Other diversity challenges and how organizations can overcome
Building a diverse workforce can be a challenge for management. One big obstacle can be the managers themselves. It is not unusual for managers to want to clone themselves, to hire people who are like them in style and substance. (Ayub, 2013. Pg. 643). It makes sense wanting to surround yourself with like-minded individuals. But by doing so you could be selling yourself short and missing out on opportunities to broaden your companies’ resources. A great mix of different age groups, ethnicities, and genders brings along a more wide range of both mental and physical abilities that can help your company achieve greater results.
A great example of this is female marketing executives in the NFL. In 2012 the woman’s apparel line was overhauled with Rhiannon Madden leading the research and marketing strategy to include lounge wear, a Victoria Secret NFL line, and shirts tailor made to fit women’s bodies. The results-double digit sales increase the first year and in the second year triple digit growth. The NFL was able to recognize a potential source of revenue and take the right steps to tap into this source. The first step-placing the right people in charge. (Jessop, 2012).
This can also lead to an unfair perception by candidates to not apply for a job if they feel their race, sex, or age might disqualify them before they even apply. How can this be combated? By creating hiring strategies to cater to certain groups. For example Robins & Jude (2012) talks about how Google makes sure female candidates speak to other women during interviews or how Goldman Sachs actively recruit woman who left the workforce to start families. These are both prime examples of effective diversity management being implemented to make a company successful.
Benefits of a diverse workforce
There are many benefits to building a diverse workforce. A diverse workforce can capture a greater share of the consumer market. By bringing together individuals from different backgrounds or experiences companies can more effectively market to different racial and ethnic backgrounds, women, and consumers who are gay or transgendered. (Burns, 2012). Being able to cater to any ever diversifying population is key for an organization’s survival. Diversity can also lead to a more creative and innovative workforce. Trying to come up with new ideas and strategies and having only one source to draw from can become frustrating and unproductive quickly. A more diverse pool to draw ideas from can lead to fresh new thinking, effective problem solving, and innovation. Finally a more diverse workforce can more easily adapt to an ever changing economic market. Current census data tells us by 2050 there will no racial or ethnic majority in the United States. (Burns, 2012). Being prepared will be crucial to an organizations long term success. What works today will most likely become ineffective in time. Being able to change with the economy is a need, not a want, of companies. The more diverse the organization the more likely it will be to adapt and change as necessary.
Summary
Age diversity continues to be a growing topic for organizations. The generation gap between the oldest and youngest workers remains large and with the influx of technology and education available today the gap seems to be getting wider. Older workers no longer retire automatically when they reach a certain age instead continuing to work well into the twilight of their careers. The challenge for managers is to effectively manage the ever diversifying workforce to optimize productivity and company efficiency. This is no easy task as new issues and practices arise all the time. Through consistent training and education effective managers will arm themselves with the right tools to rise to the challenge. An aging workforce does bring about new challenges but also new opportunities. Those who can seize those opportunities will be the most successful in the long run.

Sources Ayub, A., Aslam, M.,Razzaq, A., Iftekhar, H., Hafeez, S., (2013). Interdisciplinary Journal of Contemporary Research In Business. 4.12 Pgs. 642-648

Beleiciks, N., & Krumenauer, G. (2014). Key Workforce Challenges: Agining Workforce and Looming Retirements. Retrieved September 9th, 2014 from www.qualityinfo.org

Bruce, C. (2009). Managing Age Groups in the Workplace. Retrieved September 8th, 2014 from www.diversitymbamagazine.com

Burns, C. & Kerby, S. (2012). The Top 10 Economic Facts of Diversity in the Workplace. Retrieved September 10th, 2014 from www.americaprogress.org

Jessop, A. (2012). How New Marketing Approaches Helped The NFL Achieve Triple Digit Growth In Women’s Apparel Sales. Retrieved September 10th, 2014 from www.forbes.com

Robbins, S., & Judge, T. (2015). Organizational Behavior. (16thed). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson/Prentice Hall

Root II, G. (2014). Policies That Will Help Avoid Age Discrimination. Retrieved September 10th, 2014 from www.houstonchronicle.com…...

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