Millennials and “maturials” are now comfortable with each other at the water cooler, writes Greg Fleming

New Zealand employers are evolving when it comes to millennials and more mature employees a recent survey has revealed.

The Frog World of Work Survey conducted by recruitment agency Frog, questioned senior managers representing nearly 61,000 employees from New Zealand organisations.

Its findings suggest that — in the office at least — there's increased co-operation and communication and between the generations.

That has been helped by a trend away from the top-down structure in businesses.

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"Where the one-size-fits-all, traditional hierarchy may have suited in the past — increasingly, employers are opting for flatter organisational structures to take them into the future," says Frog's Jane Kennelly.

That change has allowed both the millennial and "maturial" to bring their strengths to the table.

"Both need to be open to changing cultures, employer branding, core values and the way organisations are refitting themselves into new structures because the pressure is on.

"Millennials balance the workforce and future-proof a business. They are 'new juice', bringing energy to their work and are more likely to be hard-wired to embrace shifts in technology," says Kennelly.

"Social media and digital networking are an everyday thing to a millennial. Teaching the tricks and tips to their older team-mates and helping them keep up with digital changes creates both appreciation and value."

Meanwhile mature workers are appreciated for their skills, reliability, life experience and the stability they bring to the workforce — characteristics Robert de Niro's character displayed to full effect in 2015's The Intern.

"Respondents also pointed out that they bring a strong work ethic to the office, which creates an important model for influencing younger employees."

She says old fashioned norms tailored to an older generation are being deconstructed as mature workers take on the role of being coaches and mentors. "Mistakes create opportunities for learning and development which is where the mature employee comes in; their experience and institutional knowledge is their strength. They know the ropes and are happy to pass on their knowledge and often this happens in an informal way."

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Mature workers have plenty to teach their young co-workers — especially when it comes to getting the job done. "Given their 'aim high' inclinations, millennials, adept at multitasking, often take on more than they can chew as a result of poor time management, having young families and unbalanced workloads. Mature workers have learned a thing or two in how to gain control of their workload ... how and when to delegate, how to push back on demands, and when to accept what needs to be done and get it done. These insights, crafted over the years, are of immense use to millennials."

Leadership is something mature workers excel in says Kennelly.

"Armed with well-developed communication skills they are typically smart and their decision making is sound. They know how to make use of their opportunities and their time. And when it comes to looking for promotion, these are the people who will give the best advice."

That teachability goes both ways with millennials better at taking and managing risk.

"Great achievement often requires risk — and this sometimes involves failure. It's a part of organisational life and is something to be encouraged. As the saying goes; 'the older you get, the more risk-averse you are.' Enter the millennial who typically doesn't shy away from taking risks."

Millennials are typically self-starters who have grown up in the age of influencers and are much better at sustaining and building networks.

"Mature workers are deft at maintaining their networks as opposed to building new. It means they become stale which is not ideal in times of great transformation so the learning opportunity from millennials is about how to stretch networks and keep relevant."