Best-In-Class Multigenerational Human Resource and Diversity Policies and Programs
HR and talent management professionals must include the effects multiple generations have in the workplace to their diversity and inclusion initiatives. Multigenerational workplaces create unique challenges and opportunities for employers who leverage each generations talents and strengths to benefit their organizations bottom lines.
Dan Bursch and Kip Kelly (2014, p. 2)
The academic, mission-centered case for of a multigenerational workforce in higher education is built upon the bedrock of inclusion that supports student learning, academic innovation, and research excellence.Yet higher education has been slower to implement strategic HR and diversity practices in higher education compared with private industry (Chun and Evans, 2014). While corporations have prioritized the importance of intergenerational diversity, academic institutions have not typically thought about or developed a strategic approach to the characteristics, needs, and contributions of different generations (Williams and Wade-Golden, 2013). As discussed in Chapter 1, European scholars have been at the forefront in documenting the relation of inclusive, age-diverse workplace practices to enhanced organizational performance.
Cultural change is at the heart of institutional diversity transformation and such change can encounter resistance due to the prevailing dynamics of power, the lack of structural diversity, and the presence of differing norms and constraints arising from the employment conditions of faculty, administrators, and staff (Chun and Evans, 2014, Kezar, 2008). Our interviews shed light on the ways that ageist and generational framing can permeate organizational culture and influence institutional outcomes. Consequently, HR and diversity leaders must be concerned that the institution draws on the talents of all its members through engaging and empowering practices that foster discretionary commitment (Chun and Evans, 2014).
What promising, best-in-class programs, policies, and practices will accelerate the attainment of multigenerational inclusion in the workplace? Given the fact that most colleges and universities have not operationalized an integrated multigenerational workforce strategy, in this chapter we discuss a concrete set of initiatives that will help overcome generational barriers, promote collaboration, and retain key talent. Although some institutions have established intergenerational service-learning programs for students, few have directed their attention to multigenerational workforce programs.
Our analysis of multigenerational practices necessarily takes into consideration all stages of an employee s career. From a recruitment perspective, institutions will be viewed as employers of choice due to the policies, practices, and programs offered throughout the career cycle (Duranleau and McLaughlin, 2014). By providing an inclusive environment that values the contributions of different generational cohorts at each stage of an employees career, colleges and universities can foster enhanced engagement and retention of talent. While retirement transitions are often seen as extraneous to the talent acquisition and development process, the culminating stage of faculty, administrator, and staff careers does require significant institutional investment in order to ensure the continuity of talent, maintain the affiliation of retired employees, and allow individuals to continue to contribute in their post-retirement roles (Duranleau and McLaughlin, 2014).
With this overview of the talent cycle in perspective, we offer seven strategic initiatives with best practice examples that will enhance multigenerational inclusion.The initiatives are:
- • Cross-generational mentoring programs;
- • Intergenerational organizational learning and education programs;
- • Intergenerational teambuilding;
- • Institutional policies that strengthen intergenerational contributions such as post-tenure review;
- • Work/life and workplace flexibility programs;
- • Predictive analytics and early separation/phased retirement programs;
- • Retiree programs that build connections back to the institution.