Reflections from a recruitment perspective – segmenting by age has lost its relevance

For many years, we have put colleagues and people, in general, in boxes based on age. What generation do you belong? What are the characteristics of your age range? What is it like working with Millennials or Babyboomers? 

Recent research shows that segmenting by age has lost its relevance.

I have long been fascinated and particularly interested in how we humans are screwed together and how we have natural talents that we either consciously use every single day, or are not aware of at all.

Much has been written and meant about diversity, both in terms of gender and ethnicity and the debate is not over. There have also been articles on how to deal with up to 5 generations in the workplace. 

Lately, I have wondered; Age is often just a number, and it’s about so much more than how long you’ve lived. It is gratifying to read that the trend towards segmentation by generations is losing its relevance.

I have experienced through many years in the business world, both as an employee and a manager, that age is only a number. My funniest, most forward-thinking, playful and curious employee when I worked as a leader in the financial industry, was a man of 62 years. He was the one I sat down with to discuss and brainstorm about how we should solve different challenges. My colleague of 35, on the other hand, was anxious about change, would instead do everything as he had always done, and was generally sceptical of anything new.

What did I learn?

The fact that qualities, attitudes, natural talents and how we use these are much more essential than what year you were born. From a professional recruitment perspective, this is exciting. It is often that my customers want a young and dynamic employee with 25 years of experience. It is usually an impossible task, and then the competence about what qualities and attitudes the company is concerned about comes in as a much more important factor than what year you were born.

Putting together well-functioning teams and management teams based on this learning is incredibly exciting. 

Focusing on how we can utilize the resources we already have, regardless of age and generation, as well as development, learning areas and affiliation will be one of the most crucial success factors in the future. Many believe that the story now goes from being a traditional organization to becoming a social enterprise. 

How will organizations manage to put people at the center of a technology-driven world? 

It is easy to take a personality analysis and a one-day leadership course for the leadership team. How to get the interest and knowledge of human capital to become part of the culture and organization is an entirely different ball-game.

By Ingjerd Birkelund, Executive Consultant, Birn+Partners Norway

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