Managing Intergenerational Talent

Debbie Amankwa
in Events

Future Works’ sophomore event (the second instalment of a planned four-part programme) took place on Wednesday 19th June and focused on the difficulties businesses faces in managing an intergenerational workforce.

The Future Works series is brought to you by leading recruitment agency Search and Select, and Global Life Assurance business Zurich International.

The event, which was held at the iMuseum, Kingswood Road, was led by Manx Radio’s Beth Espey, and featured a panel of the island’s movers and shakers: Mark Dougherty, Managing Director of DQ Advocates; Jess Kelly, Head of Marketing and Business Intelligence at the Department for Enterprise; Andrew Morgan, Managing Director of Affinity Management Services; and Anne Murray, Recruitment Manager at Search and Select.

The event opened with a discussion on the numerous benefits of uniting a multigenerational workforce and the importance of balancing enthusiasm and experience, especially in today’s climate where technology is very much at the fore of a business’ strategy.

As demonstrated in the discussion, it has become more apparent in recent years that employers are looking for candidates with a transferrable skill set, and who are adaptable to the culture of an existing workforce. The evolution of technology is a fundamental tool that governs most departments within a business is making experience – in some cases – less relevant, and HR departments are changing their approach to recruiting.

“Technology is everywhere in the modern world, and people have immediate access to whatever they want – if you want a date you need only swipe left or right – and the repercussions of this is that the younger workforce expect immediate results.”

Graduates want immediate success, and the challenge that many employers face is trying to motivate this mind-set when results aren’t forthcoming. This shift in instantaneity has changed the way that companies manage a younger workforce.

As technology in the workplace continues to grow, there is less demand for more traditional roles such as manual administration, yet technology can only go so far: for example, it can’t create strategies or lead an organisation. As touched upon in the discussion, the rise of technology is not something to be feared, but celebrated, as the delegation of more menial, laborious tasks are handed over to Artificial Intelligence leaving humans to focus on adding some real value to the workplace.

It wasn’t long until the conversation turned to the potentially damaging stereotypes of generational demographics, mainly that baby boomers can’t use technology, and that millennials are lazy, and there was a unanimous consensus that it is a fatal mistake to stereotype any generation. Everyone is unique in their own story and what they have to offer, and getting to know a candidate on a deeper level is more rewarding, offering support, education, and incentives to unite a team.

Millennials currently make up the larger portion of a workforce, and they have higher expectations of what is expected from an employer in terms of social and office culture. Instant communication about job performance is an essential requirement for a younger workforce, and although this feedback process can be quite time consuming from an employer’s perspective, it has to be an option if you want to appeal to top talent.

Not listening to the needs of an intergenerational workforce can be the difference between staff retention and high turnover, so leaders and recruiters need to adapt to this changing culture of instant feedback and reassurance.

Flexible working, such as a work-from-home policy, is also high on the priority list of what attracts millennials to a certain brand or company, and employers need to actively include staff in company processes and think about communication: staff are essentially going to enjoy coming to work if they feel their opinion and input is valued.

Jess Kelly from the Department for Enterprise said:

“It’s about respect and culture, and we make sure we have a culture in our team where we are open and where we can challenge a decision if it impacts somebody negatively.

“The Government is also good at removing bias at a recruitment level, as we tend to create a list of specific questions for each recruitment that we then ask each candidate, which means we get an overarching picture of each one.

“Offering jobs on a part-time or job-share basis can also be an attractive perk, and it gives us access to a greater talent pool which we may not have accessed before.”

Beth posed an important question to the panel: whether it was possible for an employer to keep every generation happy, and the answer was a resounding yes. By treating everyone as an individual, you get to know your workforce and what makes them happy or motivates them.

It was agreed that universal happiness is never going to be attainable, but employment is about inclusion, and people need to be recognised and rewarded accordingly.

To manage intergenerational workforces effectively, employers need to be prepared to have conversations and promote a culture of approachability.

Mark Dougherty of DQ Advocates touched upon mental wellness in the workplace (a growing issue by all accounts) and the need to offer an informal environment where employees can open up to management on an emotional level. A genuine understanding of an employee’s wellbeing allows a safe environment for staff to open up.

It’s clear that there is so much to gain from having an intergenerational team, and employers can harness a team’s experience when it comes to getting the best out of its staff.

The next Future Works event will be held on Wednesday 11th September. Future Works 3.0: will be focussing on Leading in a Digital World. This event will be aimed at people currently in Leadership roles.  

To find the talent you need contact Search and Select on 678144, email the team at or visit

Author: Debbie Amankwa

This top notch mid-level recruitment expert is also slightly obsessed with rugby and Formula 1. Did we mention beer? Debbie loves a cold beer.

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