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Ask SCORE: The advantages of hiring a multi-generational staff

When people think of diversity in the workplace, what often comes to mind first is hiring employees of different race, gender and ethnicity. You also can achieve a richly diverse workforce by hiring employees from various age groups.

Multi-generational hiring enriches the work environment, providing a wider range of knowledge, skills, creativity, perspectives and work styles. When you have a broad range of ages represented in your workforce, you get years of experience and maturity along with youthful enthusiasm.

While generalizations don’t hold true for all individuals, some common strengths within each of the categories include:

Traditionalists (born before 1946): These employees hold respect for authority and have a desire to preserve traditions and follow rules. They value teamwork and are task-oriented.

Baby boomers (born 1946–1964): These individuals are often resourceful and disciplined. They typically exhibit a strong work ethic and drive to achieve goals.

Generation Xers (born 1965-1976): These self-sufficient workers are usually versatile and receptive to learning new skills. They accept change and have a generally good grasp on using technology.

Millennials (born 1977-1995): Employees in this age group are known for bringing a collaborative attitude and strong technology skills to the table. They tend to value openness of communication and candor. Most have a keen interest in advancing in their careers.

Gen Edgers (born after 1995): Also known as Generation Z, these individuals have strong self-reliance instincts. As early adopters, they aren’t afraid of trying new approaches for fear of failure. They are adept at using technology and tend to be well-connected and influential socially.

The diversity in abilities and attitudes among employees of different age groups can create a more dynamic atmosphere within your business. With a healthy mix of traditional approaches and innovative thinking, you can strike a successful balance without becoming too stuck in your ways or too far out of the box.

From your sales and customer service efforts to your product/services development and operational processes, having diversity can help you better recognize deficiencies and make improvements to your business by tapping the unique ideas and frames of reference within your team.

Remember that in all your hiring efforts, you need to follow all the applicable federal, state and local anti-discrimination and other labor laws.

To understand the requirements, consider talking with a human resources consultant and/or an attorney. A mentor at your local SCORE chapter can assist you in locating trusted resources in your area and provide you with additional guidance and insight about starting and running your small business.


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