We must put an end to ageism!

T

he principles of equal treatment and non-discrimination are at the heart of the French social model. However, there is a certain discrimination that we still accept, that linked to age, called ageism. Prejudices and stereotypes about age and generations hinder the flow of relationships and block the optimal flow of information within companies.According to Petra Bleschke, partner, trainer and facilitator at ARC Innovation, this must change.

What is the scope of ARC Innovation?

Created in 2009, ARC Innovation is a player in training and change in companies. Based in the Strasbourg region, we co-create tailor-made solutions with our international clients and cover different areas of expertise: the development of individuals, teams and organisations. We offerboth face-to-face and virtual training and coaching with a preference forparticipative and interactive formats. We rely on experiential learning, aCanadian concept that values learning through playful experiences. Our team of5 trainers and coaches is multi-generational and intercultural. This allows usto work in different languages, including German and English. 4 men and 3 women between 21 and 65 years old with very complementary personal and professionalexperiences.

The arrival of new generations in the world of work raises the question of inter generationality in the work place. What is your vision on this subject?

In today's companies, generations Z, Y, X and the baby boomers live side by side. Although we are faced with unprecedented diversity within companies, we still have a segmentation of employees by generation in our habits. Although it no longer makes any sense, this age discrimination isinnate. Numerous academic research studies show that the generations all haveone thing in common, the desire to share and cooperate. Employees of all agesare looking for meaning in their work, autonomy and flexibility. This may be expressed differently, but the needs remain the same.

Faced with these observations, it is up to the company to give employees a sense of collective purpose at work and to get away from these stereotypes. To do this, it is necessary to adopt multi-generational management and to master inter-generational collaboration. We are convinced that a commonculture requires above all the integration of the different individuals who make up the added value of a team.

This subject should not be ignored by companies. Why should it not?  What are the risks to which they are exposed? Many companies are not necessarily aware of the need towork towards the emergence of multi-generational management and inter-generational collaboration. Very often, this is also a subject whosepositive impacts on the company are underestimated. Nevertheless, the risks arereal: blocking the flow of information between employees, exclusion, persistenceof stereotypes and preconceived ideas, ageism, inappropriate management,discrimination... The challenge is to develop a real complementarity ofgenerations and experiences in a context where the new generations are veryoften reluctant to manage their elders and where baby boomers no longer feelthey belong. Finally, the main risk is that companies may not be able toexploit 100% of their human capital and their potential in terms of creativityand innovation, and thus lose competitiveness and attractiveness. In addition,the wave of retiring baby boomers will further reinforce this need forintergenerational collaboration to ensure the transmission of knowledge to thenext generations and thus guarantee the operational continuity of the compagny.

In this context, you have launched a new GENERATIONS 360°®programme: what is it about?  This is an issue that is particularly close to our hearts and around which we have developed a new programme made up of 5 modules: an analysis to enable companies to understand the multi-generational issue and which can take the form of aquantitative digital questionnaire to identify the form in which stereotypesexist in the company, interviews, meetings, etc... From there, with themanagement and the HR function we review the results and define the programmeand objectives; two awareness modules dedicated to employees: we help employeesto better apprehend stereotypes and to understand them in order to get rid ofthem. We also offer collaborative projects, workshops and workshops that invite them to position themselves as ambassadors of all ages and to become alltransmitters and receivers of skills; a module dedicated to the managementcommittee: we accompany management and HR towards an inclusive and learningcompany culture: recruitment strategy and process, training, management,integration, transmission of know-how and knowledge. a module dedicated tomanagers so that they can learn how to integrate intergenerational issues intotheir management and create commitment and motivation in theirmulti-generational teams. This module aims to empower managers through, amongother things, a peer-to-peer meeting, conducive to the sharing of experiences;a Serene Transition to Retirement programme to ensure a smooth transition toretirement and the effective transmission of skills. This programme offers awinning tripartite approach that takes into account the company, the employeeswho leave and the employees who stay.

What avenues of reflection could you give our readers, HR managers and HR function players, on this subject? Intergenerationality is areality that requires reflection and adaptation. In order to work on this subject, it is in the company's interest to call on support professionals whowill be able to help establish an inclusive and learning culture. These strategic and transformational themes are part of the HR policy and a CSR approach.