Purpose of this book

This book looks at how organizations are currently providing learning and development (L & D) opportunities for multigenerational workforces and the issues involved, against a backdrop of competing commercial priorities, when resources for investing in staff development are often scarce. In providing such opportunities for a range of age groups there are also behavioural considerations to be taken into account, such as levels of staff motivation and their attitudes to changing learning methodologies. In addition, how to maintain the health and well-being of employees may also be an issue to consider as part of this agenda, in particular amongst older staff.

Whilst it is recognized that a large literature exists on learning and development, limited evidence has been found of texts and articles which specifically address this issue of provision across an age diverse workforce. A clear legislative framework exists which ensures that employees are not discriminated against because of age factors, yet challenges still prevail around this agenda. Although recently there has been some interest in considering how to manage a multigenerational workforce (eg CIPD, 2015), there appears to still be a gap in our existing knowledge of this phenomenon and how to deal with it, especially with regard to L & D provision and the development of appropriate strategies (Irving, 2018). Arguably as a workforce ages, employers need to design and deliver their L & D activities in more innovative ways.

Through a process of primary and secondary research to gather evidence and data to inform the completion of several case studies, it can be shown that a range of options exists for employers who wish to ensure that their learning and development provision is appropriate and relevant for all groups, as well as meeting legislative requirements. Having a relevant strategy for L& D based on such requirements is important, as well as implementing good practices to ensure that staff have opportunities to grow and learn in their role and beyond, no matter their age or the stage of their career growth. Maintaining an aging population in employment has become a global rather than local issue, and for global organizations, the different legislative frameworks and practices which exist around non-discriminatory practices in different countries and locations must be taken into account.The overarching legal framework around age diversity and inclusion is therefore explored briefly for some countries, whilst some of the case study organizations presented are part of global companies.

The key objectives of the book are to provide:

  • • A brief overview of the development of the learning and development function and its current role and value to an organization no matter its size, sector, type, or geographical location
  • • An analysis of how multigenerational workforces are becoming the norm due to a variety of factors, not least population growth and a need for many people to remain longer in employment
  • • A brief review of the legislative frameworks pertaining to age diversity and inclusion, both in the UK and elsewhere
  • • An examination of some of the reasons why it is helpful to organizations to maintain such an age diversified workforce and the implications of this for the planning, delivery, and evaluation of L & D activities
  • • An analysis of the possible problems and outcomes which could arise from having a multigenerational workforce and some practical steps on how to achieve success with its development, by adopting a strategy' to integrate L & D opportunities to harness the experience of older staff

This text is not an attempt to consider how HRD activities might be used to grow and sustain an organization’s performance, but rather it considers some of the strategic and operational implications of working specifically with age diversity in an L & D context, and how this can be done to ensure that legal requirements are met and good practices implemented and maintained.

Three key research questions are therefore considered:

  • • What particular challenges do employers face in managing an aging workforce and how are these being addressed?
  • • How do such challenges impact on how organizations plan and deliver strategies for learning and development?
  • • What knowledge- and skills-based tools and practices are used to enhance learning and development amongst an age diverse workforce as increasingly people remain longer in employment?

We reflect on these three questions against a backdrop of changing economic and social conditions across the globe. As mentioned earlier, with evidence of an aging population globally, we can see eg that in the USA the labour force will continue to grow mostly because of retirement-age workers (Khabbaz and Perry, 2018) whilst in the UK the number of people over 65 has grown by almost half over the last 40 years (Centre for Aging Better, 2018). This group of over 65s constitutes nearly one-fifth of the population in the UK. We therefore might assume that employers must begin to address how they will ensure that this part of the aging population still in work is provided with the right tools to remain effective in their job role. This may involve some refreshment of existing skills.

By using case studies to illustrate some organizational experiences of working with age diversity in designing and delivering L & D, it is hoped to inform ongoing debates in this field as well as providing some recent examples of how this is being done effectively.The author considered this to be an area of study worthy of research as the academic literature demonstrates limited evidence of how this issue is being managed.

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