The Zug Chamber of Commerce recently organised a Generation Management Summit which showed that companies benefited by having employees of mixed age ranges.
The event was held at the auditorium of the V-Zug household appliance company where Rolf Jenni (photograph), the head of HR at the company, presented a most amusing introductory speech.
There followed the revealing of a study undertaken by the School of Business of the Lucerne University of Applied Sciences and Arts and its Zug-based Institute of Financial Services, supported by the State Secretariat for Economic Affairs (Seco), which concluded that almost all companies felt a programme of generation management was necessary, and that having employees of mixed ages had a positive effect and led to greater success. However, very little was being undertaken at present to ensure companies had a staff made up of people of differing ages. Indeed, as project manager Gabriella Wanzenried mentioned, only 13 per cent of large companies did anything proactively about taking on older employees.
One possible reason for this was the prejudice that older employees were poorly motivated and inflexible and expensive. However, on this last point, it was reported over half of employees asked said they did not expect salary levels to rise with age. What was more important for them was having varied tasks, a clearly defined area in which to work, and responsibility.
Present on this occasion were Urs Gredig, the editor in chief of CNN-Money Switzerland, Silvia Thalmann, the head of the Cantonal Department of Economic Development, Boris Zürcher, the head at Seco, Heinz Karrer, the chairman of Economiesuisse, Stefan Brupbacher, the director of Swissmem, as well as Carla Tschümperlin of the A. Tschümperlin company and Annette Luther, the general manager of Roche Diagnostics International, the latter two citing examples of how employees of differing generations were of benefit to the company and to each other.
For example, the Roche company has introduced a “Reverse Mentoring” programme with teams deliberately made up of employees of different ages, as Tschümperlin endeavoured to break the trend of appointing younger people, predominantly men, when it came to positions of leadership. All agreed it was essential to keep these people engaged in the works process. It was not that special salary or dismissal protection matters were needed, it was more that framework conditions which meet the needs of the older generation were considered, a matter for politicians and pension providers.
In conclusion, what was clear was that it was essential to break down prejudices, create teams made of people of differing generations, both men and women, not least to ensure special skills were passed on, ensuring companies were prepared for the future. The discussion could well have gone on longer, but the lure of the opportunity to be able to network over a drink was too much.
This article is based on one written by Patricia Diermeier Reichardt.