For the first time in Spain’s history, there are now between four and five generations present at the same time in the workplace, spanning an age range of approximately 51 years.
The Generation and Talent Observatory lists Veterans, Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, Generation Z… Moreover, none of these groups have the same way of working, mode of operation, knowledge or career and life backgrounds.
This generational dynamic is becoming strategically important for organisations because of the many challenges it presents. One of the aspects the observatory highlights is the need for Baby Boomers (1956–70) to stay in the workplace as long as possible so they can continue to provide value. However, many are either made redundant or are no longer present in the workplace, and nobody has measured the financial cost of the loss of their knowledge.
Then there is Generation X (1971–81), which is currently dealing with responsibilities such as children and mortgages. This generation lacks career prospects, since many of the jobs are still occupied by the Baby Boomers. Finally, it is also characterised by high levels of stress and demotivation because of the responsibilities its members face.
Generation Y (1982–92), which has the highest level of education, is characterised by high levels of unemployment, precarious jobs and emigration. Members of the generation work in jobs that do not correspond to their education but we want to retain them all the same. This is the first digital and hyper-connected generation, one that gave birth to the idea of working wherever and whenever you want, with the office losing its traditional importance.
Finally, there is Generation Z (1993–2010). This generation is the most aware of the changes taking place and its mastery of technology and learning are revered by other generations. Its strengths include mobility, entrepreneurship and teamwork, while its weaknesses include excessive ego.
“There is no disputing,” remarks the observatory, “that an organisation’s knowledge lies in its people but we need tools to transfer this knowledge while understanding, attracting and managing new generations who will be the drivers of change.”
There are three key aspects to the challenge of intergenerational collaboration: organisational culture, technology and the workplace. Offering a range of collaborative spaces to foster relationships between all a company’s employees represents a major step forward.
In the office projects we have worked on, we have moved away from asking how many workers can fit into each square metre of office space. Instead, we ask questions like: Can we improve people’s work experience? How can we help break down intergenerational barriers? How can the space promote a sense of belonging among the workforce?
The emphasis is shifting towards creating a memorable experience among employees. And with this objective, the majority of companies (not just large corporations), are incorporating spaces that work dynamics mix with other more social and human dynamics in their offices. Agoras, leisure rooms, cafés and lounges all promote solid relationships between people and facilitate the transmission of knowledge. This is how to make all staff feel happy, to create a space where people can work alongside each other and different talents can flow.