Article in Business / Human Resources / Employee Relations
As baby boomers and older workers retire from the American workforce, growing knowledge gaps are coming to the fore in many organizations. Older workers, as consultants, are being increasingly relied on to fill these gaps but their presence in the workplace complicates management strategies.

Knowledge Gaps are becoming More Common

As baby boomers and older workers retire from the workplace, significant knowledge gaps are left in the knowledge data base of a number of organizations nationwide. NASA, in fact, in increasing measure, is consulting with retired scientists from their ranks to fill in the knowledge and technological gaps they face. Older workers, as well, are being increasingly relied on for their mathematical and science skills which are so woefully lacking among many high school and college graduates these days.

Growing Age Diversity creates Management Challenges

Retention of baby boomers and older workers in the workforce, and on a consulting basis, does add complexity to the already diverse workforce, however, which requires effective strategies for blending the disparate talents of employees from different age groups. To this end of establishing a more harmonious blending of different age groups in organizational settings, the following principles should be practiced:

1. Managers should diligently question assumptions that they make about different age groups (, 2011) and should take the time to get to know older and younger staff people.

2. Supervisory and managerial staffers have to be careful that they do not fall into the trap of believing that there is only “one right way of doing things” and should be willing to consider a wide range of approaches that are cost effective and that lend momentum to the organization's competitive advantage. At the initial stages of project planning, very free-wheeling brainstorming should be allowed with the only rule being that no idea is ruled out no matter how impractical it may seem at first blush; narrowing of the ideas should come at a later stage.

3. Bonds of trust should be established among the different age groups in an organization through constructive, honest, and ongoing feedback and evaluations. Performance evaluations should be a time of edification, not disparaging.

4. When positions open in the company, managers must assure that they are recruiting from a wide range of candidates and that they have a diverse recruitment/hiring committee (, 2011).

5. It is extremely important that when a new employee is hired that they (he/she) are given a very thorough orientation not only in terms of their specific position but in terms of how their position interfaces with the vision, mission, and culture of the entity. Moreover, they should be advised of the unwritten expectations and mores of the firm so that they do not unnecessarily give offense.

6. Managers should very diligently monitor the performance of each person in their section to assure that not one of the policies in place is differentially affecting different age groups in the company (, 2011).

7. Managers should constantly strive to create and expand a spirit of constructive feedback, camaraderie, trust, and collaboration in their respective departments to enhance individual, section, and organizational value to all of the key stakeholders and to the community.

Source: University of California San Francisco. (2011). Chapter 12: Managing Diversity in the Workplace. Guide to Managing Human Resources. Retrieved from: to Shut Down Permanently on December 31, 2017

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