March 27, 2014 - Rachel Miller
As people retire later, many businesses could have four generations of employees working together, according to new research by the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES).
It means that in the next 20 years it will be increasingly common for young staff to be working with colleagues old enough to be their great grandparents. The Future of Work, published by UKCES, has found that that multi-generational working – so-called four-generation or 4G workplaces – will become more widespread as people delay retiring until their 70s or even 80s.
Commenting on the findings, the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) said that a 4G future should be "welcomed not feared". The CIPD has conducted its own research on 4G workplaces and found that employers and employees see clear benefits from an increasingly age-diverse workforce.
The CIPD's survey of nearly 3,000 employees and more than 900 employers, Managing an age-diverse workforce, found that almost a third of employees saw no challenges whatsoever in working with colleagues from different generations.
However, it also found that many businesses are ill-prepared for a 4G future. Nearly half (46%) of employers said that line managers are not trained in managing teams of different generations and that their organisation has no plans to change this.
Claire McCartney, research adviser at the CIPD, said: "The good news is that both employers and employees recognise the benefits that workers from different generations bring. Indeed, fears of intergenerational tensions in the workplace couldn't be further from the truth. Companies report important business benefits such as knowledge sharing and enhanced customer service, while employees clearly enjoy the new perspectives and fresh ideas inspired by working with people of diverse ages."
Key findings from the CIPD report include: