How to maximise the benefits of a multi-generational workforce

By Paula Tinkler

We have almost 150 employees at Chemoxy who range in age from 17 to 70 years old. When we’re hiring, we always take on the best candidate for the role, regardless of their age. This is how we’ve built such a highly-skilled team and, as a result, grown to be the largest independent chemical contractor in the UK.

While we’re always looking for fresh talent, that doesn’t mean we focus heavily on hiring young people. In fact, 23% of the employees we’ve hired in the last five years have been 50 or older. This reflects the fact that we have a balanced approach to taking on new staff. Additionally, we’re committed to maintaining our multi-generational workforce, which means we don’t move staff on when they get to a certain age. It’s all about recruiting and retaining the right people — age doesn’t come into it.

What are the benefits of having a multi-generational workforce?

One of the biggest advantages of having a mixed-age workforce is that our employees have a diverse range of knowledge and skills. For example, younger people tend to be much more familiar with technology, the internet, and social media. Older employees, on the other hand, are more comfortable talking to clients in person. Having a balance means we’re strong in all areas and can cater to a wider demographic of customers.

Our business also benefits from the fact that our staff members often share their experiences and knowledge with each other. This is great for our graduates and apprentices who can learn a lot from our more seasoned workers. More mature members of staff will also often introduce younger colleagues to their contacts within the industry. This is invaluable for our less experienced employees and helps to kick-start their careers in a great way.

Having a multi-generational workforce gives our business continuity and stability, too. Seasoned staff are able to mould new employees into workers who are perfectly suited to their roles, and this results in our staff becoming highly specialised. The average length of our workers’ service is 15 years, which just goes to show that this approach is fantastic for staff retention rates as well.

How can you maximise the benefits?

To encourage this knowledge exchange and get the most out of it, we’ve created tutoring, peer mentoring, and work shadowing programmes that give young staff members the chance to learn directly from their older colleagues. Our experienced employees also create manuals and comprehensive job notes that our younger workers can refer to when they need a helping hand.

Managing our workforce in this way helps our younger employees to get off on the right foot, and also bridges the gap between the generations, ensuring that everyone can work happily as a team. These are all things that could be established within your business, too.

The benefits of having a multi-generational workforce are clear: it can give your business a sense of stability, ensure that employees are properly trained, and positively impact staff retention rates. Over the past few years, our company has experienced unprecedented success, and we’re sure our intergenerational workforce is one of the keys to this.

Paula Tinkler is the Commercial Director at Chemoxy