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Multigenerational Workforce: From an Optional Choice to an Inevitable Necessity

Multigenerational Workforce: From an Optional Choice to an Inevitable Necessity

The rise in the general population’s health levels and life-expectancy along with the willingness of older-aged individuals to remain professionally active for more years contradicts the lack of societal and business opportunities. Age related discrimination, marginalization, exclusion and lack of opportunities are only some of the problems that are escalated. To combat these problems, the LearnGen project is focused on promoting equal work opportunities for people of different ages, as well as endorsing strategies that can be used to prevent the exclusion of older staff, in order to promote diversification and inclusion of marginalized workers within the workplace.

The expansion of employment prospects and opportunities available to older employees, as well as the adoption of a multigenerational workforce can benefit the economy, society, and employees in multiple ways. For instance, the increase of active, older employees will cause the Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita to increase. Additionally, the collaboration between workers from different generations is expected to promote teamwork and reduce ageism within society, in general. This is because collaboration between people from different generations acts as a barrier against segregation, discrimination, and social exclusion. On a personal level, by enhancing multigenerational integration within the workplace, employees can expect the intergenerational knowledge and experience sharing to be expanded, increasing their productivity and performance as a result.

A further very important benefit brought on by the interaction between employees from different generations, is that it has a positive impact in retaining their mental health and motivation, as well as improving their resilience and well-being. For instance, studies have shown that older workers are hesitant to ask for mental health support from their employers when needed, while younger employees feel more comfortable to do so. Moreover, older employees are deemed to be more committed, self-sufficient, and competitive, while younger employees show more signs of resourcefulness, and problem solving abilities. Therefore, a working environment that comprises employees from multiple generations can hedge work related issues by creating an environment where each generation brings their competencies and where employees help and mentor one another.

Combating segregation, discrimination, and social exclusion of marginalized workers is not an option. Focusing on this necessity, the LearnGen project aims to utilize mentoring strategies such as peer mentoring and reverse mentoring to increase employees’ competencies and transferable skills. It aims to enhance learning from each other in the designing of peer-to-peer learning mentoring as a way of combating skills mismatches. Furthermore, LearnGen intends to identify effective, inclusive policies that focus on low qualified workers of different age groups.

Overcoming the challenges in mentoring relationships.

Not all mentoring relationships are successful, some are marred by conflict, tensions and difficulties. When these challenges are not managed successfully, the reputation of the mentoring programme is at jeopardy and could result in its ultimate demise.

However, despite these challenges, there are a range of strategies that can be implemented to support the continual progression of the relationship;

  • Incorrect matching of the mentor and the mentee:

Personality types might clash, personal and professional aspirations and needs might differ, and preferred working styles can result in a challenging relationship for both the mentor and the mentee. Unfortunately, when the working relationship is no longer working, it is important to speak up and identify that a change in relationship is required.  By addressing these concerns early, replacement mentor(s) or mentee(s) can be found before either party decides to end the relationship.  

  • An individual who lacks the commitment and motivation to be part of the mentorship programme.

Often individuals sign up for a mentoring programme and soon realise that they do not have the time available to commit to participating in its associated activities. When the mentorship relationship beings, the mentor and the mentee should identify a series of goals and objectives that they wish to collectively achieve through participating in the programme. Setting SMART goals at the start of the mentoring programme will support both parties to stay motivated and engaged in the programme and will be more willing to commit to activities that are proposed.

  • Conflicting Demands

As individuals progress during their career, they develop skills in managing their workload and their ability to juggle tasks and deadlines as they are presented. Within a mentoring relationship, if either party is unable to manage their day-to-day workload, they may struggle to provide input into the mentoring relationship.  Being open, honest and realistic with deadlines and expectations from the partnership is an excellent way to overcome challenges that are presented from conflicting demands.

According to Martin (2016) mentoring programs are 80% planning and 20% implementation. By taking the time to effectively match the mentor with their mentee, illustrate the work demands of all parties, and to set realistic demands and expectations from the relationship, the mentoring programme has a greater chance of succeeding. By effectively communicating with one another, mentors and mentees can overcome challenges that they are presented with during their mentorship programme.

Pilot Training Activity by EUROTraining Educational Organisation

Pilot Training Activity by EUROTraining Educational Organisation

In the framework of implementing the LearnGen project activities Eurotraining Educational Organisation organised an event in order to proceed the pilot testing of the training material. It took place face-to-face on the 14th and 18th of October 2021 in Athens, Greece. The event was held at the headquarters of EUROTraining Educational Organization with twenty-one participants. More specifically, there were eight vet professionals, seven business managers and six HR specialists. All these professionals are very active and experienced in their field and always aspire to improve their skills and competencies. All participants showed great interest and were eager to participate actively in both workshops. The duration of each workshop was 3 hours, from 2 pm to 5 pm on both days.

Main target of the workshops was to ensure the interaction among the participants. To enhance this aspect during the event were utilized presentations and videos while all participants had the opportunity to complement their knowledge and be involved in group activities. In addition, each workshop included a Q&A session, which encouraged the discussion and the exchange of diverse options, experiences and best practices.

All participants seemed to understand the main concepts presented while they also had the opportunity to reflect on their real intergenerational learning needs at the workplace throughout the workshop. Although the first part of the workshop was more introductory for the participants and also focused on theoretical aspects, the second part was devoted to development of skills participants will need in order to actually benefit from the training and implement intergenerational learning in their everyday work life.

Proof of the workshops’ success was that most participants also expressed their wish to participate in similar trainings in the future and showed great interest in the project’s activities. 

The Great Return to the Workplace

The Great Return to the Workplace

Over the past 18-months, the Irish population were asked to work from home in order to protect the most vulnerable in our society. Working from home resulted in many challenges being faced by both young and older workers, including adapting to new technologies, isolation and mental health concerns, and even increased work pressures.

Since the 20th September 2021, the Government of Ireland has permitted organisations to once again host employees in their physical place of work. Although there are still COVID-19 restrictions in place, such as mask wearing and physical distancing, the doors of many workplaces across Ireland are beginning to open once more.

If you have been working from home over the past 18-months, and wish to support a member of your team back into the office, here are some tips that can help you, to combat segregation, discrimination and social exclusion of workers of all ages:

  • Be patient!
    • Although everyone experienced the COVID-19 pandemic, we all experienced it differently. Some people may not have interacted face-to-face with their colleagues for some period of time, so it may take them time to get used to mingling with colleagues again.
  • Value all employees for their strengths.
    • No matter what age a colleague is, they will have strengths that can support your work. Take some time to have an informal chat with your colleague to learn more about them.
  • Set clear and realistic deadlines:
    • As people have become used to working from home, they may have worked additional hours to get work done. By setting clear and realistic deadlines, considering the additional time pressures that are faced by working in the office, your team will be able to succeed.

Being open and honest with all colleagues and addressing any concerns they may have returning to the workplace will help to ease them back into working from the physical office once more.

Intergenenational learning for equity, diversity and inclusion at work

Intergenenational learning for equity, diversity and inclusion at work

One of ERASMUS+ main 4 priorities for the years 2021 – 2027 is Inclusion and Diversity in society. Recognising that different age groups of people experience discrimination based on age-related stereotypes, the LearnGen project aims at equitable access and equality for workers regardless of age.

Educating employees so that they can challenge social norms and stereotypes and be in a position to manage their own potential biases is a crucial step for promoting is an important step in promoting tolerance and the inclusion of diversity. As Verna Myers puts it: “Diversity is being invited to the party; inclusion is being asked to dance”.  In other words, for effective integration of diversity in the workplace it’s not enough to have different people in the employee group.  The appropriate infrastructure must exist to include everyone in learning, decision-making and development opportunities.

The LearnGen project focuses on 2 basic pillars of educational material and training:

1) Training people in key positions (managers / business owners, human resources executives and adult educators) so that they can positively influence intergenerational learning policies and processes and help their employees be included equally.

2) Training employees to be tolerant of age differences and to become mentors to people of a different generation from their own, helping each other to fill potential skills gaps.

Actions like these build a solid knowledge base by reducing any capacity gap in businesses. At the same time, relations between colleagues are strengthened. Both result in increased job satisfaction which leads to further employee productivity.

For more information on the LearnGen project actions, you can further explore this website and follow us on Facebook.

July 2021

Mentoring in the Bulgarian schools

Mentoring in the Bulgarian schools

Bulgaria is among the five EU members with the largest share of aging teachers, according to the Eurostat data.
Almost 20% of all Bulgarian teachers are aged 50- 54, as many are aged 55 to 59. Near 10% is the share of the teachers aged 60 to 64, and about 3% are teachers over 65. Thus, almost a half of the Bulgarian teachers are close to or over the retirement age.
The need for young teachers in the Bulgarian education sector has long been identified. This is one of the reasons why intergenerational mentoring is been applying very actively in this sector.
All university students of pedagogical departments pass compulsory internship at school, where they are guided by experienced, usually older, teachers. After graduating, young teachers continue to be mentored by experienced teachers.

There are obvious benefits from mentoring at schools for all stakeholders – for both adults and young professionals, but also for the school administration.

Young teachers obtain knowledge and develop their practical skills. Guided by experienced mentors, they design their own professional careers and learn to have effective communication with school students. On the other hand, the mentors develop their own professional skills by communicating with their younger colleagues.

In the digital world the mentoring process also takes the opposite direction. The younger teachers, being savvy in technologies, often become mentors for their older colleagues. They guide them how to digitalize the educational content, offering at the same time new approach to the school topics.

Indisputable are also the benefits for the school administration. The mentoring process increase the culture and professional level of the pedagogical staff, the interrelations in the school improve. As a result – better educational quality.

More about the mentoring in the teachers’ profession you can read in the annual scientific-theoretical journal “Pedagogical News” of the Ruse University – http://pedagogicnews.uni-ruse.bg.

Authors: BRCCI, Bulgaria

August 2021

Reverse mentoring and intergenerational learning; how similar are they?

Reverse mentoring and intergenerational learning; how similar are they?

In recent years, reverse mentoring and intergenerational learning seem to have a great impact on the contemporary workplace. According to research conducted by the University of Szczecin, in Western Poland, the efficacy of reverse mentoring depends on the level of engagement in the mentor/mentee relation and the level of organisational support – engagement of the officers, supportive organisational culture and atmosphere conductive to cooperation. Reverse mentoring can provide corporate leaders with valuable generational and cultural perspective, and foster inclusivity by bridging the gap between populations diverse in age, ethnicity, culture and gender. This way, organisations have the opportunity to benefit from truly diverse teams at the workplace fostering understanding and exchange of experiences. 

In recent years, reverse mentoring and intergenerational learning seem to have a great impact on the contemporary workplace. According to research conducted by the University of Szczecin, in Western Poland, the efficacy of reverse mentoring depends on the level of engagement in the mentor/mentee relation and the level of organisational support – engagement of the officers, supportive organisational culture and atmosphere conductive to cooperation. Reverse mentoring can provide corporate leaders with valuable generational and cultural perspective, and foster inclusivity by bridging the gap between populations diverse in age, ethnicity, culture and gender. This way, organisations have the opportunity to benefit from truly diverse teams at the workplace fostering understanding and exchange of experiences. tor/mentee relation and the level of organisational support – engagement of the officers, supportive organisational culture and atmosphere conductive to cooperation. Reverse mentoring can provide corporate leaders with valuable generational and cultural perspective, and foster inclusivity by bridging the gap between populations diverse in age, ethnicity, culture and gender. This way, organisations have the opportunity to benefit from truly diverse teams at the workplace fostering understanding and exchange of experiences. 

“Reverse Mentoring: a solution to bridge the age gap in the workplace”

“Reverse Mentoring: a solution to bridge the age gap in the workplace”

The proactive management of equality, diversity and inclusion are increasingly important to the culture of a company and how it operates today. Many organisations are striving to break down barriers, promote inclusivity and look at ways to retain existing employees. When we consider it, the term “generation gap” has never been more relevant than it is today with up to five generations working side by side – from the baby boomers born between the mid-1940s and the mid-1960s to Generation Z, who were born after 1995.

Today’s workforce challenges management with a wide ranging life experience and age gap to plug, not least because technology has changed the working environment so much since the baby boomers entered the labour market initially. Reverse Mentoring, a concept first made popular in the 1990’s, is a possible solution to bridge the age and generational gap within the workforce.

Reserve or reciprocal mentoring was initially a way to close the skills gap and introduce new technology to senior managers using a basic mentor partnership but reversed. For example, a younger employee would ‘mentor’ an older, more senior employee. The senior employee, usually management, could then take on board the ideas and have the power to support implementation within the business. For the reverse mentoring relationship to work, it must have clear objectives and take place at fairly regular intervals; although the arrangement need not be too formal or rigid. Mentors and mentees should be at ease with the arrangement so they receive the most value from it. Like any form of mentoring, reverse mentoring in any organisation should be based on trust, confidentiality, mutual respect and sensitivity.

Reverse Mentoring is a bridge-building exercise between the generations where the conversation can range from integrating new digital communications tools to discussing what younger people believe the world of work should look like. “Reverse mentoring is a two-way street,” says Mary Harrison, chief executive of business training and support company, Optimum. “The results can be tangible and invaluable in helping today’s leaders to drive a stronger and more robust business and providing tomorrow’s leaders with an opportunity to experience a view from the top.”

Professor Karl Moore from the Desautels Faculty of Management at McGill University suggests some more subtle ways of reverse mentoring: ‘These include things like sending your mentee articles to read, suggestions of TED talks to watch, or things that struck you that you want to share with them. You might also want to set up a time to have coffee and discuss the material you sent them and how it might apply to the business.’

For more on the LearnGen Project, please visit us at www.learngen.eu

Author: Future in Perspective, Ireland

August 2021

“Ageism is alive and kicking in Ireland”

“Ageism is alive and kicking in Ireland”

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought the topic of ageism in the workplace to the forefront of our minds. In March 2021, a staggering 59% of young people aged between 15 – 24 years were unemployed. Often in low-income jobs that have been hit heavily by the pandemic, young people have been indirectly pushed out of the labour market. Did you know that age-related discrimination occurs when individuals are mistreated, or cannot access the same opportunities, as other individuals, solely based on their age?  Not only does ageism in the workplace occur for the youth of Ireland, but older workers are often disregarded from employment opportunities as they are seen to be too costly and due to retire soon. By comparison, it is estimated that in the US, bias against older workers alone can cost the US economy up to $850 billion annually.

Ageism in the workplace can take many forms, and often happens when workers are applying and interviewing for new roles. Younger workers may not have the required skills or knowledge to be able to apply for more senior roles, whereas older workers may be seen as ‘too experienced’ and ‘too expensive’ for a role. Often, workers from minority groups face higher levels of ageism in the workplace as they simply cannot afford to change their job.

Ageism in the workplace can affect workers, colleagues and even the wider community. Age-related discrimination is often swept under the carpet and not recognised or identified. Commonly, ageist phrases in the workplace include statements such as ‘You’re ancient!’; ‘You can’t teach an old dog new tricks’; ‘You’re too slow’.  However, high profile legal cases in recent years have highlighted that individuals of all ages can be victims of ageism at the workplace.

Often age-related discrimination occurs when individuals are seeking work but are refused solely on the grounds of their age. In November 2020, two men aged 35 were awarded over €12,000 after being refused entry to An Garda Síochana (Irish Police Force) between 2005 and 2007 based on an upper age limit within the force. Victim Ronald Boyle has pleaded with the Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee, to abolish this upper age limit of 35 years to ‘bring an end to this ongoing prejudice’.

Ageism in the workplace has the potential to destroy intergenerational camaraderie and peer support within the workplace. Ireland is currently at a pivotal junction and if age-related discrimination is continued to be swept under the carpet and not addressed appropriately workplaces could see increasing amounts of prejudice towards people of all ages.

The LearnGen project is working with partners across Europe to address workplace ageism and create a series of educational tools and resources that can be used by HR professionals, team leaders and managers to promote intergenerational learning and equality in the workplace.

 

Intergenerational learning and inclusion of all people regardless of age at the workplace

Intergenerational learning and inclusion of all people regardless of age at the workplace

We often experience or become aware of age bias.  Such biases exist in all facets of life, including work life.  For example, we may observe employers refusing to invest in the further development and training of employees of a certain age or employer who are reluctant to give work involving decision making to younger employees.  This type of bias leads to the alienation of a significant part of the workforce and their exclusion from learning and training opportunities aiming at increasing their efficiency and the productivity of their employers.

The ERASMUS + European project entitled τίτλο LearnGen: Intergenerational Mentoring and Learning in the Workplace deals with intergenerational learning as a significant tool for inclusion and interaction between younger people (aged between 18 and 30 years old) and older people (aged 50+) at the place of work.  Through the development of this project we aim to inform companies, managers and adult training educators about the benefits of including all employees in the workplace regardless of age to cultivate social cohesion and acceptance of intergenerational differences.

Intergenerational learning is defined as the way in which people of different generations can transfer knowledge to each other. When different generations work together to exchange views, impart knowledge and values, and develop skills through their interaction, it becomes an important aspect of lifelong learning that is significant to all people regardless of age. Through intergenerational learning, mutual understanding and the development of an educational relationship are promoted, while at the same time the generational gap phenomenon is reduced.

How can intergenerational learning be developed? An important way is deliberate and systematic guidance. Most of us are familiar with the concept of a Mentor at work who is usually a more experienced, frequently older person who takes care of a less experienced, often young person to teach him/her some things.  Equally important though is reverse mentoring where the younger person undertakes to teach some knowledge to an older colleague.  Young people, in addition to having the opportunity to learn from the knowledge and experiences of older people, also have a lot to teach respectively, mainly digital skills, technological challenges and literacy on social media.

The LearnGen project aims to develop training materials for organizations, employers and employees so that they can integrate mentoring into their training and human resource development programs and develop the necessary skills that the opposite generation can teach them.

For more articles on the subject of intergenerational learning and post updates about the LearnGen project you can follow us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/learngeneu/about/?ref=page_internal

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