The 29th of April is yet another day in the busy European calendar of festivities, just in between the European Data Protection Day and the European Day of Languages. The 29th of April however is raising awareness for a topic that will soon have some impact on our working life in Europe. Each year, this day celebrates the Solidarity between Generations. Its objective is to make the European Union better adapted to its aging population and to put intergenerational solidarity high on the agenda.
At first glance, this topic might not yet look relevant to us - the young generation. But a quick look at some figures of the European Statistical Office shows, that especially in Europe, intergenerational collaboration will be of great importance to everybody in the near future. Demographic projections tell us that the share of people older than 65 in the total population of the European Union will be 27% in 2040 - today it is only around 18%. The percentage of all the other age ranges however will decline. For example, the percentage for the typical working age range (15 to 64 years) will drop from today 67% to only 59% in 2040. Fewer young people will thus enter the workforce. All these trends are accompanied by improved medical treatments that will let us live longer and healthier. Ultimately, this means that in the European workplace of the future more senior people will be working with fewer junior people.
This topic is of course of high relevance also for Siemens, especially for the Healthcare Sector. Figures from the Siemens Sustainability Report 2012 show, that the situation at Siemens in Europe is considerably different from other parts of the world: Whereas the share of employees older than 54 is 13% in the region Europe is part of, it is only 2% in Asia.
Already today, we experience that no fewer than four generations work together in one workplace in Europe. Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y – they all are working together at Siemens.
For example, the age difference between the youngest and the oldest person working in an European Siemens department could be around 50 years - quite an impressive number. It is therefore more than ever crucial to think about how to make this generational mix work. Open communication and an open mind set are definitely key to learn about colleagues from different generations. It is about getting to know their values, attitudes and behavior. Already being aware of the different generational concepts will help to better understand why people from a certain generation do what they do.
On this website you can learn more about Generation Y.
At Siemens, the integration of intergenerational topics is included in the company‘s diversity strategy for 2013. Networks like the Siemens Generations Employee Network GenE, where current and former employees of different generations exchange ideas and experiences, also contribute to this end. And naturally, in programs like the Siemens Graduate Program, participants and mentors learn about generation topics to be able to better understand each others mind sets.
After all, the combination of knowledge and experience of older colleagues with new approaches and ideas of younger colleagues is the perfect mix for both the employees and the company. Or as Henry Ford put it: “Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.”
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