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Multigenerational working enhances McDonald’s business performance; experts urge more employers to be proactive about issue

Employers have been urged to cultivate age-diverse workforces, as new research reveals the benefits of working with people from a range of generations.

Experts called for a focus on recruiting and managing individuals from all age brackets after fast food giant McDonald’s polled 32,000 of its UK workers and found that multigenerational teams were an average of 10 per cent happier than those working solely with their peer group.

The research was released ahead of GCSE results day later this week, with thousands of people born since the turn of the millennium preparing to enter employment for the first time.

Claire Hall, McDonald’s UK chief people officer, said: “This summer marks an important milestone in the workplace as people born in the year 2000 take up part-time roles for the first time. Yet despite growing numbers of older and younger workers, the value of a multigenerational workforce to business is little understood.

“As these insights show, teams that bring together a mix of people of different ages and at different life stages are fundamental to creating a happy and motivated workplace and to delivering a great customer experience. The age range of our people at McDonald’s now spans an incredible 75 years.”

Caroline Abrahams, charity director at Age UK, hopes other employers will recognise the benefits of a multigenerational workforce. She said: “Research backs up the benefits of a more age-diverse workforce and also shows many older workers have no intention of taking it easy and are still looking to progress with their careers.

“At Age UK, we have found how rewarding a diverse workforce of all ages can be and how much younger people benefit from working with older people and vice versa. Employers can really benefit from the fact that more people than ever before are working past the age of 65, by recognising how valuable it can be to utilise the skills and expertise that older as well as younger people bring to the workforce.”

Claire Williams, director of inclusion and diversity at membership body Inclusive Employers, said the UK now had five generations of people in the workforce. “The research is a fantastic example of the business case for age-related inclusion,” she said. “I hope that other employers see the benefits of recruiting an age-diverse workforce”

Interviewees for a report published by the CIPD last year identified knowledge sharing, a range of perspectives and enhanced customer experience as key benefits of an age-diverse workforce.

Rachel Suff, employment relations adviser at the CIPD, said: “The issue of managing an age-diverse workforce is particularly pressing because of population ageing: more than ever before, organisations are made up of different generations with potentially different cultures, expectations and beliefs.

“Employers need to proactively manage an age-diverse workforce and help employees maintain employability throughout their working lives.”

Abrahams added: “Meaningful opportunities to work, learn and volunteer should be available to people of all ages and we should be striving towards a situation where it’s commonplace for people from different generations to work together.”

McDonald’s also commissioned a survey of 5,000 members of the public, and found that more than half thought working with people of different ages was a positive, while a sample of 1,000 customers showed that 84 per cent liked to see a mix of ages in a restaurant team. Six in 10 expected customer service would improve as a result.

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