A significant generational shift is underway in the workplace. The oldest baby boomers began turning 65 in 2011, and 10,000 more people will reach retirement age every day until 2030. Millennials now make up the largest group in the U.S. labor force, at 35% or 56 million.
As long-time IT employees continue to retire and younger workers take on more leadership roles, companies must be intentional about how they manage this transition. Organizations need to leverage the strengths of multiple generations at once: the wide-ranging expertise and institutional knowledge of baby boomers and the new skillsets and innovative capabilities of millennials and Generation Z.
A recent CIO article emphasized the importance of “cross-pollination of generations” in the workplace, allowing both older and younger IT employees to mentor and learn from one another.
You can implement this strategy in your own organization by taking the following actions:
- Build cross-generational teams.
Look for opportunities for senior IT leaders to mentor early career employees – but remember that learning is not a one-way street. Identify the new competencies younger employees bring to your organization, and invite them to share their knowledge in one-on-one sessions or in a larger team setting. Develop teams that have representatives from different generations and areas of expertise, and cultivate an environment where all employees can learn from each other.
- Focus on growing a new talent pipeline.
Don’t wait until your key senior leaders announce their retirement to develop a talent development plan. Anticipate the roles you will need to fill in the near future and the skills that will become more important over time. What IT skills are difficult to hire for now? How do you anticipate that will change over the next few years? Partner with a program like York Solutions’ Barriers to Entry (B2E) to gain access to a fresh pool of diverse IT talent.
- Prioritize employee engagement.
Employees who feel trusted, valued, and listened to will be more engaged in your organization, regardless of their generation. Be careful not to perpetuate generational stereotypes (“baby boomers are too rigid and set in their ways to be innovative” or “millennials don’t want to pay their dues”). And make sure you are offering both senior leaders and new hires – and all employees in between – opportunities to share their ideas and pitch in on finding solutions to problems.
Learn how the Barriers to Entry program can provide a pipeline of new IT talent for your organization.