Mixed-age teams: stumbling block or guarantee of success?

We are a medium-sized company characterised by a multinational workforce. We employ people from four generations, with the baby boomers the oldest and Generation Z the youngest. We encourage dialogue and collaboration; in the belief that, in addition to gender and ethnic diversity, age diversity is critical to our success.

We are proud of our committed and motivated employees. After all, they are the driving force behind the digitisation of the entire independent automotive aftermarket (IAM). They collaborate successfully worldwide in multinational teams across generations. All of them pursue a common goal: to digitise the entire IAM and to shape its future.

Similar to other companies, our four-generation workforce poses special challenges to optimise cooperation. What distinguishes the older from the younger? What makes them tick at work and in their private lives? What can the older learn from the younger and the younger from the older?

First things first. Across Europe, our employees are on average 42 years old. Therefore, in the following we focus on the older and the younger. By older, we mean the baby boomers born between 1946 and 1964. By younger, we mean Generation Y, the Millennials, born between 1980 and 1995.

The baby boomer generation, with its high birth rate, contributed significantly to Germany’s economic upswing after the Second World War. They often prioritise their professional lives over their private lives. Generally characterised as career-oriented, they, particularly the men, are often seen as workaholics and can be found in many management positions. They are often dubbed as old white men by younger generations.

Millennials grew up in times of globalisation with the internet and computers. They are familiar with digitisation. They are usually connected to others both personally and digitally. This generation wants their jobs to be meaningful, fun and varied. They also appreciate flat hierarchies as well as team and project work. According to their ideas, flexible working hours go hand in hand with a good work-life balance.

Although very different generational worlds collide, we are convinced that the combination of different experiences and competences moves our company forward and opens up new perspectives that we could not perceive before.

“In my mixed-age teams, we asked ourselves what who would buy from whom if we were all in a marketplace.The young team members would like to buy my experience and professionalism, while I would like to buy their curiosity and impartiality. This intensive intra-team exchange has not only increased our appreciation of each other’s ages but also strengthened our team spirit.”

Pia Harbo, Commercial Business Owner (BeNeLux, Nordics & Baltic).

It is the mix of generations that creates the synergies. When we talk about diversity, we don’t just mean gender and ethnicity, but also age diversity.

At TecAlliance, everyone is welcome. It is important to us to work well together in multinational and mixed-age teams worldwide. That we have the freedom to work creatively, self-responsibly, result- and customer-oriented, and that we have fun doing it. Despite all this, conflicts can also arise due to the age difference.

Learning from one another to grow together

Our experience shows that fruitful cooperation between the generations occurs when they learn from each other and combine their strengths. Baby boomers often have years of experience in the profession and can provide younger employees with valuable insights and practical knowledge. They also have many skills that they can pass on to younger generations, such as practical skills, historical perspectives and lifelong learning curves.

Younger employees, on the other hand, can shine with fresh ideas and new technologies that help the company become more innovative. They often bring new perspectives and a different approach to problems that can move the organisation forward.

It is important that both generations recognise the respect and appreciation of each other and that leaders challenge and encourage dialogue and collaboration. Through training and workshops, both generations can learn more about each other’s strengths and challenges to develop a better understanding of each other.

Successful collaboration can be complemented by flexible working models where older and younger employees work part-time and perhaps from home. In this way, everyone can contribute their strengths to the company’s performance.

Each generation has its own view of work. A fruitful interaction necessarily requires that the generations are willing to communicate with each other and develop understanding for each other.

We promote an appreciative corporate culture, work responsibly, and treat each other with respect. Independent work and the competent support of dynamic, mixed-age teams go hand in hand for us.

Mobile or hybrid working, working in a home office, on the road or on site are part of our everyday working life. In this way, each generation can individually balance work and private life.

We are convinced that age diversity inspires the cooperation of our multinational teams worldwide. We believe in a diverse and inclusive work environment and in giving our employees fair and equitable opportunities to reach their full potential.

Do you feel that this is a good fit for us? Then take advantage of the opportunity for success now with an unsolicited application