As we launch into 2023, organizations continue to invest heavily in diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging initiatives. DEI leaders and champions have an opportunity to drive progress in a strategic area the executive team already wants to address, but likely doesn’t know how to tackle.
The good news? Over 70% of employers report they would likely explore or implement multi-generational workforce policies, according to the OECD. They found that nearly half of employers have a DEI strategy that already explicitly includes age as a facet of diversity—more than for any other dimension of diversity.
Now the bad news. The same study found that most employers have not developed specific tactics to ensure their workplace is age inclusive. Good intentions may be slowed by lack of data and resources to act. Without defined tactical efforts, harmful policies such as mandatory retirement ages remain in place and clear opportunities are missed.
This is where DEI leaders can drive the change. When AARP’s Global Employer Survey 2020 tells us that 83% of executives say that that creating a more multigenerational workforce would drive their success and growth26, yet there is a dearth of action, D&I leaders need to step in to bridge the gap. Here’s how:
- First, review and update your Diversity & Inclusion policy. Fifty-three percent of global executives surveyed do NOT include age in their Diversity & Inclusion policy. It’s time to address this and doing so will send a clear message to people across your organization that their efforts to build age-inclusive teams will be supported and valued.
- Second, prioritize the specific practices that executives already see as key to leveraging a multi-generational workforce: 73% are interested in family caregiving, 78% in financial planning, and 81% in lifelong learning. In fact, the same executives report they would implement these if the tools and support were available: 68% purposefully designed mixed age teams, 70% unbiased recruitment, and 74% training and lifelong learning opportunities.
- Finally, the OECD specifically suggests that “engaging ERGs and their members to understand needs, test solutions and target specific groups that carry heavier loads is a highly effective, efficient way to move towards a multi-generationally inclusive workforce... It’s important for DEI solutions to recognize the intersectionality between generations, age and all other aspects of diversity and inclusion. Indeed, the various generations may view diversity issues in different ways that are more linked to their formative influences and experiences unless they are confronted with or seek out experiences of diverse people”, as Phyllis Weiss Haserot
So, which employees will benefit when you take the lead on building an age-inclusive workforce? It turns out nearly all of your employees are concerned about age-related bias and inclusion in your organization. Your new college graduate hire who feels they need to dress differently to appear older to be heard in meetings. Your Millennial employee who is a great manager but has a blind spot around how his age bias affects the productivity of his team. Your Gen X employee worried about whether they will be passed over for promotion because they just turned fifty. Your Boomer employee who cannot afford to retire yet but knows the stark reality of what a job search would look like if you laid them off and so lives with daily stress about their future financial security.
This why your D&I efforts need to specifically address and support age-inclusivity as a strategic initiative. Because it affects your entire team, it is critical to your organization’s ability not only to achieve your D&I goals, but also your organization’s strategic and growth goals
The benefits of strong ERGs
ERGs are a key strategy to enable critical employee groups to:
- Gain a sense of belonging in your organization
- Benefit from a community of support
- Participate in targeted efforts to recruit, retain, develop and promote underrepresented employees in leadership or other key positions
- Help find solutions and address threats to business continuity and competitors in the market
An intergenerational ERG is a smart idea because:
Both younger and older workers are more productive when working in age-diverse teams. In fact, workers under age 35 are the least productive but experience productivity gains when they work with older workers. Workers over age 50 have similar productivity levels as those age 35–49 and are more productive when there are more younger workers.
Creating an age-inclusive organization now will yield increasing value over time. Increased longevity and declining birth rates indicate that the five-generation workforce is here to stay.
To leverage the strengths of the four- to five-generation workforce, companies must create sound practices related to:
- Lifelong learning and training opportunities
- Financial planning
- Family caregiving
- Unbiased recruitment
- Intentionally designed mixed-age teams
Download a toolkit to improve your ERGs
If you need help building or leveraging your ERGs, we’re here to help. You can download a powerful toolkit to help build the careers of your employees across all ages and career phases. You don’t have to be a CEO or the head of Human Resources to use this kit. You can use it as a staff member, a manager, a senior leader or someone on the HR team. The toolkit was created for organizations of all sizes, from 25 employees to more than 25,000. The valuable information in this toolkit can be adapted for organizations with all types of employees and all industries.
You can use this toolkit to:
- Win buy-in from key influencers in your organization to engage your ERGs around age inclusion
- Start a new intergenerational ERG
- Build a specific initiative about age inclusion across all of your current ERGs
The toolkit also includes practical and actionable ideas on how to engage employees and address age bias to create financial value in a way that will:
- Increase net income
- Deliver higher productivity per employee
- Generate a strong pipeline of talent
- Improve workforce continuity, stability and retention of intellectual capital
- Encourage a greater diversity of skills and outlooks
This toolkit offers practical, actionable ideas to help you:
- Gain insight into your organization’s issues related to age or life stage, and help employees successfully navigate assumptions around age and generation. You can leverage the toolkit to create ways for your organization to understand what employees at every career phase need in order to pursue their professional ambitions successfully.
- Develop leadership skills across employees of all ages. Organizations that leverage ERGs for leadership development are more likely to be high-performing than those that do not. You can harness the power of ERGs to support employees of all ages by providing resources to build their leadership, professional skills and networks.
- Recruit and retain age-diverse talent. Having a thriving intergenerational ERG initiative sends a strong signal to prospective and current employees that they:
- Belong in your organization and have a community of support
- Can access key leadership development opportunities to ensure a clear career path, no matter how they choose to define it
Download the ERG Toolkit today, and access everything you need to design and build a successful first year of your intergenerational initiative.
Once you start using it, we’d love it if you shared your successes by emailing us at email@example.com.