Managing Cross-Generational Teams in Manufacturing

The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) and the Manufacturing Institute (MI) surveyed manufacturers and interviewed industry leaders to create the November 2021 report Multigenerational Teams in Manufacturing: Industry Trends and Best Practices for Leveraging Age Diversity. The results showed that manufacturing employers who successfully manage cross-generational teams target knowledge transfer, recruitment, and employee feedback. These activities elevate employee motivation, morale, and retention. They also strengthen the bottom line.

According to the report:

  • 78% of manufacturing firms are concerned about generational changes in the workforce.
  • Over 60% of firms use cross-generational teams to increase creativity, innovation, and productivity.
  • Although 60% of manufacturing firms feel they are successfully managing cross-generational teams, 10% feel they are struggling and 30% are not focused on this issue.

The report results show that managing cross-generational manufacturing teams is essential for business success. Therefore, employers should implement tips and best practices to achieve this objective.

Choose among these methods to manage cross-generational manufacturing teams.

Include Age in Diversity Training

An employee’s age impacts their values, communication preferences, and leadership style. As a result, understanding cross-generational differences supports collaboration, conflict resolution, and team cohesion. Therefore, age should be included in a manufacturing firm’s diversity training.

Emphasize Knowledge Transfer Among Cross-Generational Employees

Longer-tenured employees have significant company and manufacturing industry knowledge. As a result, managers should encourage these team members to share their knowledge, experiences, and insights with shorter-tenured employees.

Manufacturing firm leaders should formalize knowledge transfer processes to minimize knowledge loss when employees retire. This documentation should include clear outlines of topics to discuss and a checklist for employees to gain hands-on experience.

Create a Mentorship Program for Cross-Generational Employees

The report showed that 61% of respondents use traditional or reverse mentoring to help manage cross-generational teams. These mentoring relationships help familiarize new manufacturing employees with the firm’s culture and build relationships outside of work.

Cross-generational mentorship provides many benefits for manufacturing employees:

  • Understanding of key objectives and learning topics
  • Transfer of experiential knowledge and work ethic
  • Training on the use of technologies
  • Ability to ask and answer questions when needed
  • Sharing diverse ideas, perspectives, and insight
  • Strengthening team bonds

Offer Gradual Retirement  

Let soon-to-retire and recently retired manufacturing employees work on an as-needed or part-time basis. These professionals could be available to cover shifts, answer questions, and provide encouragement. They also might assist with training and consult on projects to provide more value for the organization.

Are You Looking To Grow Your Manufacturing Team?

Partner with Connectology to add qualified cross-generational members to your manufacturing team. Contact us to get started today.