The retirement age is 67. Our life expectancy is 83 years. Combine these two facts, and the reality is, Australians are working and living longer than ever before. But what does this mean for our workplaces?

With Generation Alpha set to finish high school in the next few years, the Australian workforce is about to span five generations bringing a fresh set of challenges to workplaces, and if properly managed, can secure the future success of a business.

Here we discuss how the rising retirement age and growing workforce age gap can impact company culture, and best-practice tips to eliminate potential friction points before you smell smoke.

So, how do you navigate the different stages of life and expectations in the workplace?

Having four generations in the workforce has quickly become a real dilemma for business leaders, with 39 per cent of CEOs believing that companies won’t survive the next decade if organisations don’t transform and embrace the generational mix.

 It’s easy to see how friction can occur within the workplace with an age gap of a few decades, so what can businesses do to limit the negative impacts and embrace the positives? When it comes to wants, needs, and expectations, every generation has a different list but there are a few things that are valued across the board, and they include:

  • Work-life balance that includes annual leave, flexible working arrangements, and parental leave.
  • Communication and collaboration using a variety of different channels from digital and in-person to paper.
  • Formal training opportunities and rewards e.g. career development, promotions, and recognition.
  • Financial incentives from assistance with student debt, mortgage help, and commuter benefits.

Bridging the gap: tips to finding and maintaining harmony in the workplace

 So, how do you bridge the generational gap in the workplace? Whether we like it or not, a gap will always exist between those entering the workforce and those who’ve already established their careers, however, it’s how workplaces find the harmony that’ll make all the difference – and here are some ways you can start.

1. Valuing co-creation, communication, and collaboration

Embracing the benefits of co-creation processes not only increases active participation rates across the generational divide but also improves employee well-being and job satisfaction. This can involve encouraging employees to share their insights, ideas, and skills in meetings and fostering collaboration that helps create a culture that values innovation and continuous improvement.

2. Boosting job satisfaction at all levels

It’s a fact that employees who are satisfied, happy, and content with their role and working environment feel valued and are more likely to be high performers. So, it’s a no-brainer that job satisfaction should be a priority for a business.

3. Promoting and following through on work-life balance

Work-life balance isn’t a new idea, introduced by millennials, it’s become a key priority for Generation Z and a big factor in attracting – and retaining – top talent. Across the two generations this can look like different things from flexible working hours and childcare support to alternative working hours and paid time off, however, what they have in common is the potential to improve motivation and quality of life.

4. Walking the walk when it comes to employee well-being

High performance won’t stick around for long if the business doesn’t support employee well-being. The stigma around mental health and well-being has been dismantled at the hands of millennials and Gen Z, and while older generations might still keep theirs under wraps, it’s still a vital part of fostering a positive working environment and keeping employees engaged in work.

5. Turning high-performance into career development

Whether it’s formal training programs, mentorship, or on-the-job learning, by investing in these development opportunities, employers can provide the necessary avenues for all employees to build new skills, stay engaged, and turn their drive and dedication into real career development.

6. Embracing technology on both ends of the divide

Technology can be both a barrier and a gateway for employees, and this can largely come down to age. And while all generations face barriers in the workplace, none has been more significant than the rise – and increased reliance – on all things digital. To help bridge the gap and colour the grey areas, its critical workplaces are aware of the differences in technology literacy and use, ensuring that it’s used in a balanced way that promotes engagement, performance, and satisfaction.

The role proper and effective people management plays

Effectively managing your people also plays a massive role in bridging the gap between generations, it’s how you manage your people that determines everything from employee satisfaction and talent retention to productivity and high-performance culture. Actively engaging employees in every stage of the employee life cycle from in-depth onboarding and comprehensive performance review cycles to training and career development opportunities can embrace the strengths of an intergenerational workforce and set your business up for future success.

How enableHR can help?

Managing each step of the employee lifecycle seamlessly is a key part of ensuring your business is providing the best possible employee experience from recruitment and onboarding to performance management and termination. With enableHR’s cloud-based software, you’ll have access to workflows and checklists that guide you through smart, legally compliant HR processes without any headaches.

Get a demo and see how enableHR allows you to easily manage your people.