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Generations working together

The ageing population in Europe and the United States is a growing concern for the job market and the economy as a whole. As people live longer and birth rates decline, the proportion of older individuals in the population is increasing. This demographic shift is expected to have significant implications for the job market in the future.  
Written on 04/14/23

According to Eurostat, the statistical office of the European Union, the proportion of people aged 65 and over in the 27 member states of the EU is projected to increase from 20.5% in 2020 to 29.5% in 2070. This means that almost one-third of the European population will be over the age of 65 by the end of the century. 

The situation is similar in the USA. In 2021, the U.S. Census Bureau estimated that there were 73.1 million people aged 60 and over in the United States, comprising about 22.3% of the total population (U.S. Census Bureau, 2021). By 2030, all baby boomers will be older than 65. This will increase the size of the older population so that 1 in every 5 residents will be at retirement age (U.S. Census Bureau, 2021). 

This demographic shift is expected to have a number of ramifications for the job market, including increased demand for healthcare and social services; a shortage of skilled workers to fill the positions as older workers retire; and higher pension costs due to increasing life expectancy. 

To address these challenges, policymakers and businesses will need to develop strategies to adapt to the changing demographic landscape. This may include investing in healthcare and social care services, developing training and education programs to upskill workers, and exploring new technologies and innovations to improve productivity and efficiency. Despite difficulties, these developments also hold great opportunities for employees and companies alike. 

Learning from each other 

One of the primary benefits of a multigenerational team especially in highly complex industries like the insurance industry is the diversity of experience and perspective that each generation brings to the table. Younger team members may have a fresh perspective on the latest technologies and trends, while older team members may have decades of experience working with a wide range of clients or products. By combining these perspectives, companies can create innovative solutions to meet the evolving needs of the market. 

Additionally, multigenerational teams can provide a more comprehensive understanding of the diverse needs of different customer segments. For example, younger employees may be better equipped to connect with millennial and Gen Z customers, while older team members may have greater experience working with baby boomers and Gen X. This can help companies create more tailored insurance solutions for each customer segment. 

Address the challenges with open communication 

Despite the potential benefits, there are also challenges associated with multigenerational teams. One common issue is the potential for generational clashes, which can arise when individuals from different age groups have differing work styles or communication preferences. For example, younger team members may prefer to communicate via email or instant messaging, while older team members may prefer face-to-face conversations or phone calls. It is important for team members to recognize and respect these differences in order to foster a productive and collaborative work environment. Also, there is the potential for misunderstandings or miscommunications due to generational differences in language and terminology. This can lead to confusion and potentially costly mistakes. To avoid these issues, it is important for team members to communicate clearly and effectively, and to seek clarification when necessary.  

In general, talking about the what, how, and why of processes is key in diverse teams, because “the usual” way may not be as clear or logical to everyone. Open communication can help to explain proven tactics but also show the merits of new ideas and approaches.  

Lastly, working styles and life priorities might differ greatly between people who are in very different stages of their professional careers. So special attention needs to be paid by team leaders to what everyone brings to the table and how much or in what respect they can provide expertise and skills. 

Creating a Collaborative Work Environment 

To fully capitalize on the benefits of multigenerational teams, it is important to create a collaborative work environment that fosters communication and mutual respect. One way to do this is through mentorship programs, where older team members can share their experience and knowledge with younger team members, while also learning from their younger colleagues. This can help to bridge the generation gap and create a more cohesive team. Also, a focus on team building activities that encourage communication and collaboration is helpful. Companies can organize team outings, awaydays or volunteering opportunities that bring team members together outside the office. This can help to build relationships and promote a sense of camaraderie among team members. 

With new approaches and open minds for multigenerational teams, employees, companies and societies as a whole can benefit.