4. October 2023

Five vital insights on age diversity from HUG

Five vital insights on age diversity from HUG

Today in London, hundreds of HR leaders and other inspirational speakers gathered for HUG 2023, our biggest HR event of the year. Joining us for a panel today were employment guru and author Dr. Paul Redmond, Channel 4 Head of Creative Diversity Naomi Sesay and entrepreneur and founder of Fanbytes Timothy Armoo. They each shared some fantastic insights on how to facilitate cross-generational knowledge transfer in the workplace.

Here are some of the biggest takeaways they communicated to the hundreds of HR professionals who joined us at HUG.

1. Only 8% of organisations have a policy for building multigenerational teams

During his introduction to the panel, Dr. Paul Redmond explained how the generation you are a part of impacts how you work and that "we've gone from a Boomer world to a Gen Z world". Here are some of the trends he identified:

  • We now talk more about development than satisfaction at work

  • Bosses are expected to be coaches

  • Annual reviews have become ongoing feedback conversations

Despite this, teams are largely unprepared to navigate this change.

Dr. Paul Redmond at HUG by Personio

“There’s a disconnect between how generations react because the internet has changed everything. Sometimes older generations can’t let go of older habits. Gen Z are saying we don’t have to work like that.” — Naomi Sesay.

2. Focus on equity over surface diversity

Naomi Sesay highlighted that having an apparently diverse set of faces on a team can feel like a success, but the really important thing is making people feel like they belong. It's important to ensure historically marginalised voices are able to make decisions that have real meaning for the organisation — when they feel like they belong, they'll stay.

"People look like they’re on the playing field but they’re not actually playing the game. Do they have the ability to make decisions? Are we putting a footstool under those who need it the most?" — Naomi Sesay

Naomi Sesay at HUG by Personio

3. Celebrate Gen Z's side-hustles and offer social capital

Side-hustles and freelancing have traditionally been looked at as distractions by managers, but Timothy Armoo's advice would be to turn that on its head and celebrate them.

"About 40% of people at Fanbytes had side hustles. On Fridays we had people talk about their side hustles — how well they’re doing, any challenges they’re facing. None of those people left the business, even if those side hustles made more than their salary. Everybody wins." — Timothy Armoo

Timothy also shared how important social capital is to Gen Z compared to financial capital. When looking into employee rewards, rather than offering cash bonuses he offered a spa day where you're picked up by a Rolls Royce and dropped at a swanky hotel, and encouraged to share pictures on social media.

"What if we gave our employees something that would look ridiculously good on Instagram?" — Timothy Armoo

Timothy Armoo at HUG by Personio

4. Language matters — and it’s always evolving

Naomi Sesay emphasised that language informs behaviour, so organisations need to be having the uncomfortable conversations about the words people use every day and how they can harm somebody. Once you lay those words out on the table, you have the power to change them.

"We know from research that lots of microaggressions, which should more accurately be described as 'verbal violence', can add up to PTSD." — Naomi Sesay

5. Start small with organisational change

Timothy Armoo stressed that when people think about change in companies they think about radical change, which can lead to a lot of pressure and resistance. So the trick is to start "very, very, very small."

"Get out a sheet of paper. Write down the end goal, then work out the step just before that, and just before that, and so on. About five layers down, you'll find a thing that may seem insignificant during that week or month, but if you keep doing that during the next few months, the big change will gradually happen." — Timothy Armoo

Final takeaways:

To close out the talk, Naomi and Timothy were each asked for their one hot tip to make the workplace equitable for all ages.

  • Naomi Sesay: "Actively listen to the person you’re speaking to. Take on the information so you can respond and accordingly."

  • Timothy Armoo: "Treat everyone like a human being and everyone will be happy."

Stay tuned as we report live from HUG throughout the day. Still to come – read insights from the world’s greatest living explorer Sir Ranulph Fiennes, award-winning CEO Karen Blackett OBE and technology experts Tom Cheesewright and Dan Sodergren.

Anna Jager-Elliott

Anna Jager-Elliott

Anna Jager-Elliott is a Senior Content Strategist at Personio. She enjoys watching trends emerge in the world of work and writing about how they'll affect our day-to-day experiences.

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