With more people living longer, active lives, we are at a historical crossroads in which the demographics of business environments are shifting. It’s time to drop the narrative that persists about Boomers vs. Millennials battling over jobs, being on different planes or coming from opposing perspectives. It’s time to undergo the complex transformations necessary to modify our connections, attitudes, and work environments to create, as in our best relationships, “great chemistry.”
No transformation is inevitable, however. It is up to all of us, together, to shape the changing workplace for a future which will benefit workers of all ages (hence society as a whole), one, as I discuss in my soon-to-be-published book, The Ageless Way, that is focused on the Triple Bottom Line of people, planet, and profits.
I see signs of this trend toward intergenerational cooperation developing, such as in the egalitarian digital future laid out in Dan Abelow’s book Imagine a New Future: Creating Greatness for All. Despite such progress, however, we need to keep moving forward with unity of intent and purpose, since life and society “can change on a dime.”
I believe multigenerational age-friendly trends are worth developing and will result when we all work together based on common interests and visions for the future. A future that has a place for all of us is one with more genuine connections and fewer artificial barriers, such as those based on age, gender, race, and class stereotypes.
For starters, we can:
~ engage in collaborative multigenerational conversations, hands-on discussions about best practices, (mis)perceptions, inclusive decision-making that supports all ages;
~ explore alternative scenarios and solutions together based on the probable and preferred future, not the past;
~ look at intergenerational partnerships, such as job sharing/mentorship arrangements (which enable two people to be employed instead of one, combine training costs and salary, stretch a company’s dollar and quicken the pace at which younger employees can gain the skills, knowledge, and some experience they need to be more valuable to that company and the marketplace);
~ cultivate environments in which diversity and work-life balance are key (Whether we want that balance because we’re starting a family or because we want time to visit our established families, the outcome is logistically the same. Work locations and hours must be increasingly flexible for everyone, without penalty);
~ encourage people over 60 (and in fact those 40+) to remain employed by starting their own businesses – as encore entrepreneurs (These could be less complex solopreneur home offices or larger operations that would not only remove the competition for the same job between two generations, but would also generate employment, services, and products relevant for healthful, fulfilling lives).
The world in which we are living and working longer demands a new business model to serve consumers, our culture, and our workplace environments. By working together, we can solve, or at least ameliorate, multiple societal problems simultaneously through the specific social missions of companies serving multiple generations. No doubt the formation of more startups focusing on the Triple Bottom Line will have a significant positive effect on the job market, offering a way for all generations to make a living and a difference, and to secure their future and that of the world for generations to come.
Again, it’s the chemistry that matters. Together, we are stronger and can share our skills, knowledge, and creativity to discover more than “just” a new molecule. We can discover — we can create — new worlds. Together, we can engage in interactions that generate reactions which change the story around aging so that we model the new Ageless Way across generations.
In what ways is your company, or another business you are familiar with, already mastering the art of intergenerational collaboration? How are you doing this in your own life?