How companies can manage the mix of a multi-generational workforce

Steve Butler, CEO at Punter Southall Aspire shares his top five books to read this summer on the ageing society

Employers keen to understand the impact of an ageing society on their workforce will be interested in some summer reading recommended by Steve Butler, CEO at Punter Southall Aspire.

Steve Butler has written extensively on his blog about the demographic revolution that is taking place that means workforces will soon have up to five different generations working together, from employees in their 20s and 30s to people in their 70s and even 80s.

Steve Butler says, “I’ve spent all year reading about the demographic changes happening in society and I’ve come across some truly fascinating, sometimes life-changing books. Here I share my top five choices for some thought-provoking pool-side reading, which offer employers valuable insight into our ageing society, and what it means for both individuals and companies.”

Generation Cherry: Powerful Strategies to Give You a Second Bite of the Cherry by Tim Drake

People in their 50s and 60s often cannot afford to retire – or they don’t want to retire quite yet. Yet society doesn’t necessarily value their contribution in the workplace. So how can people of this age make the most of their future? Tim Drake provides a framework for people to work out what they really want from their later years, so they can take control and make purposeful choices.

Steve says, “I gave this book to a member of staff who wanted to retire but was putting it off and getting stressed because he wasn’t clear on what retirement might look like for him. After he read the book, he started viewing his retirement as a project and was able to flesh out his plans, so he could transition from a structured work week to a less structured life. So, this is a very practical as well as very inspirational book.”

Clash of the Generations: Managing the New Workplace Reality by Valerie Grubb

As people extend their work lives, the workplace contains a larger mix of ages than ever before, but how do companies manage this mix? The author’s key message is that companies have to get this age-diverse workforce working together, so it becomes “more than the sum of its parts”. It is packed with useful case studies and strategies showing you how to do this.

Steve says, “Of all the books I’ve read on this topic, this was the only one that pulled in almost all the themes I’ve been talking about in my recent blogs, together in one place. It’s an academically rigorous book but written from the American perspective. That’s why I’m now preparing my own book addressing these issues from a UK perspective.”

The Value of Difference: Eliminating Bias in Organisations by Binna Kandola

Steve’s interest in age-diversity led him to read more about diversity in its broader sense. He says there is nowhere better to start than this book, which looks at diversity from the perspective of human behaviour and psychology.

Steve says, “This book asks why we choose to affiliate with some people and not with others, and why recruitment bias, pay gaps, and unfair privileges still exist in today’s workplace just as much as they did 20 years ago. This was a heavy book to read, but I personally gained enormously from seeing things from a very different perspective to the one I’m used to.

“Purposely pausing to look at life through a different pair of eyes can help to reduce unconscious bias in your thinking and decision-making. That’s an important skill for anyone, in business and life, and this book will definitely challenge your thinking.”

Keeping The Millennials: Why Companies Are Losing Billions in Turnover to This Generation and What to Do About It by Joanne Sujansky and Jan Ferri-Reed

Millennials are renowned for their high turnover rate as employees. This book explores why that’s happening, what drives millennials to switch jobs more often, and why they aren’t necessarily happy with the same roles and workplace policies as older employees.

It also explains what companies can do to integrate and engage all generations of the workforce equally. This is key to avoid losing money because of a high turnover amongst disappointed younger workers.

Steve says, “I found this to be a nice easy read that really picked up on some of the millennial-related topics I’ve been talking about in my recent blogs. It reinforces our own experience, which is that millennials want to work with a company that has a strong mission, flexible workday and workweek and good career structure.”

The M-Factor: How the Millennial Generation Is Rocking the Workplace by Lynne C. Lancaster and David Stillman

This is the ideal book for employers that find their millennial employees hard to understand. It is another short, fun-to-read book on the different views and values held by employees in different age groups. It explores the generation gap, and how it affects both intergenerational teams and the managers of multi-generation workforces.

Steve says, “Again, it’s all a matter of perspective. An older employee might see millennials very differently to the way they see themselves. This book will get you thinking about what millennials really want from the workplace – and how best to harness their talents.”

To read more about Steve’s thoughts and insights on the ageing society visit Butlers Blog.

For more information on Punter Southall Aspire visit: www.psaspire.com

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