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SUSTAINABILITY | 04.18.2024

The importance of intergenerational collaboration in companies

Dalia Alonso

Dalia Alonso

In their book El factor edad, Ana Matarranz and Enrique Arce look at how intergenerational coexistence in the workplace can benefit companies and society.

Ana MatarranzAna Matarranz is general manager of Howden People and Compensa Capital Humano. We talked to her about intergenerational diversity at companies and her new book, El factor edad, co-written with Enrique Arce and published by LID Editorial, explaining why balancing junior and senior staff is essential for any company that wants to boost its productivity while serving society.

In this regard, it’s important to promote and include senior talent to enrich work teams. For example, for the third year running, MAPFRE leads the ranking of IBEX 35 companies for its firm commitment to seniors and generational diversity in the workplace.

Why is it important for employees from different generations to coexist at a company?

Each generation has unique experiences, specialized knowledge, and diverse skills to share. Combining these perspectives can enrich creativity and innovation within a company. Knowledge transfer is also a key factor: younger workers can benefit from older employees’ knowledge and experience, while seniors can learn about new technologies and the latest trends in the labor world from younger workers. This helps to promote continuous learning at companies, improving the work environment. 

“40% of HR managers admit to automatically discarding the résumés of candidates over 50”

How do juniors help seniors, and vice-versa?

While junior workers contribute innovation and creativity, technological knowledge, energy, enthusiasm, and fresh points of view, the most experienced employees have a wealth of experience and wisdom, networks and contacts developed throughout their careers. They also have resilience and problem-solving skills, and a certain degree of stability and calm that are essential for tackling complex situations. This balance is fundamental to the success of companies, which benefit from these synergies. 

One of the most common reasons why companies reject young applicants is their lack of experience. So isn't it contradictory to deny them a job opportunity? For professionals over 50, something similar, and at the same time, opposite happens: their age is seen as a disadvantage instead of a guarantee of experience.

Companies must be aware of the importance of integrating talent from different generations. In El factor edad, we include testimonies from several Generation Z workers who highlight the importance of strengthening intergenerational dialogue to encourage young people to learn work methodologies. But it's also absolutely necessary to assess and take advantage of the wealth of knowledge and experience of senior talent, who are still important assets in the workplace. In Spain, unfortunately, senior talent is excluded from the work world. This is the only country where this happens. 40% of HR managers admit to automatically discarding the résumés of candidates over 50, thus overlooking the vast experience and knowledge they could bring to companies.

What can companies do to prevent age discrimination when it comes to employment?

Following the example of other countries, they can establish hiring procedures or policies that focus on skills and competencies, ignoring aspects such as age. Data analysis can be a very useful tool for identifying possible patterns of age discrimination and taking appropriate corrective measures, by regularly analyzing the hiring and talent loyalty data in each organization.

“Companies must be aware of the importance of integrating talent from different generations”

How does an inclusive work environment benefit society?

It helps build a more equitable, cohesive, and prosperous community. By promoting diversity and inclusion in the workplace, we can significantly contribute to reducing social inequalities in different demographic groups. By eliminating barriers and biases and providing an environment in which all employees feel valued and respected, contributing to their well-being, companies can fully leverage the diversity of available talent, leading to greater productivity, innovation, and creativity in the workplace.

Can intergenerational coexistence make companies more profitable? For example, by expanding the target audience, having different references and points of view…

Indeed, real intergenerational coexistence and appropriate corporate inclusion and diversity policies can increase a company’s productivity. And this happens through the contributions of young people, with their new ideas and approaches, and knowledge based on the experience of senior employees. In addition, companies that promote intergenerational coexistence can be perceived as more attractive workplaces for talent of all ages. They also tend to have a better reputation among their clients, collaborators, and society in general, which can lead to greater business opportunities.

 

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