I recently had the honor of being featured in a New York Times article about intergenerational offices, which has since sparked a conversation about what happens when an employee is older than his/her boss. Here’s my take:
I was 27 when I co-founded my PR agency with my 42-year old business partner, Jim. He and I instantly found value in our 15-year age gap: he had more seasoned chops while I offered fresh energy and a deep hunger to grow. Some two decades later, he has since retired, but my appreciation for intergenerational diversity has remained the centerpiece of our agency’s values.
As business owners in a competitive landscape, we hear a lot about inclusion – mainly sex, gender and race – and how companies will keep up with the rapidly changing workplace. Global and racial diversity can, in fact, be a driver of innovation. But do we talk enough about age diversity?
From our inception, our agency has built an environment with employees spanning multiple generations – from college interns to AARP members. Yes, I recognize that our culture – and certainly our profession – celebrates youth. Yes, we admire the smart and digitally-savvy Millennials as their generation continues to explode into the workforce and we hire these young guns as well. But part of our agency’s secret sauce is the unique blend of mixed generations we have on board. We don’t shun mature talent – we embrace it.
I believe office environments thrive when comprised of people at different stages of life, bringing a variety of perspectives and experiences to the table. It gives staff instant mentoring opportunities. It enables learning and sharing — and challenges all of us to embrace different perspectives. Isn’t that the essence of building bridges to successful communication? Shouldn’t that be the essence of all human interaction?
Does it require patience and force us to be flexible? Undoubtedly. But harnessing this powerful combination of experience, creativity and passion far outweighs its challenges. And, our clients absolutely reap the benefits from this unique balance.
Hiring and cultivating good people has been a cornerstone to O&G’s success for decade. And goodness can absolutely be found in cross-generational inclusion. Now, that’s a philosophy that will never grow old.
Read more on intergenerational offices, including ours, in this New York Times article.