Fast Company Selects Growing with Age as a 2021 World Changing Idea

Growing with Age

Unlocking the power of the multigenerational workforce.

What if a powerful source for growth were hiding in plain sight?

Age inclusion is an untapped source for growth.

Imagine a future where...

A seventy-year-old designer pairs her wisdom with the expertise of recent business school graduates to create an innovative new product.

A shipbuilder with four decades of experience teaches a new apprentice the skills she needs to safely and efficiently craft a new cargo ship.

An older account director arranges flexible leave to enable her younger employee to care for a sick relative.

You might associate age in the workplace with cost and decline—when in fact, it's an opportunity for growth.

Studies prove it.

Inclusion can strengthen business resilience to provide a competitive advantage.

Inclusive companies—whose employees with diverse backgrounds in age, gender, race, sexuality, and ability reported positive workplace experiences—posted a 14.4% gain in stock price between 2007–2009 while the S&P 500 declined by 35.5%. After the Great Recession, inclusive companies’ recovery outperformed the S&P 500’s by nearly four times.

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See how inclusive companies’ stock returns outperformed the S&P 500 during the Great Recession.

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Mixed-aged teams generate a productivity spillover effect.

There is a myth that productivity declines as workers age. However, when measured at the team level, factors like institutional knowledge transfer, mentoring, talent development, and reduced turnover lead to an overall productivity increase for multigenerational teams.

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Synergies between older and younger workers lead to increased productivity on multigenerational teams.

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Employee age diversity unlocks greater market opportunities.

Companies whose employees reflect the diversity of a heterogeneous customer base establish stronger customer bonds and therefore stronger sales. Appealing to purchasers of every age and empathizing with customers to develop products and services for all ages can unlock multigenerational spending power.

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Calculate your multigenerational spending power opportunity

Select the age ranges represented in your workforce:

Your workforce reflects the age-diversity of US consumers who contributed:

$0.4 trillion

of direct spend in 2020

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Intergenerational teams are a source for game-changing innovation.

Analysis by the German Economic Institute found that each increase in the variance of workforce age increases the likelihood of achieving a product or process innovation by 1.5%.

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Learn about these intergenerational teams and the innovations they sparked.

Glass battery

Dr. John B. Goodenough (94) and Dr. Maria H. Braga (48) applied their diverse expertise to develop the first glass battery in 2017. These all solid-state batteries could lead to faster-charging, longer-lasting, safer rechargeable batteries to power everything from handheld mobile devices to electric cars.

Athletic shoe

Phil Knight (53) and Bill Bowerman (26) invented the modern athletic shoe in 1964. The duo went on to found NIKE, Inc. four years later to manufacture and market lighter and more comfortable running shoes to the world.

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There is a global economic necessity for greater employment of workers over age 50.

According to AARP, discrimination against workers over age 50 cost the US economy $850 billion in 2018. Raising the employment levels of workers over age 50 to match countries with the highest participation of 50+ workers will increase GDP across OECD countries by $10.3 trillion—offsetting the economic loss if older workers’ employment levels were to remain stagnant.

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How will GDP per capita change by 2050:

Economic loss if employment levels for workers over age 50 stagnate.

-4.5%GDP per

Gain if employment levels for workers over age 50 rise.

+7.8%GDP per

Net economic impact (on GDP in 2050) from raising employment levels for workers over age 50

$3.0 Trillion

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How will you create an age-inclusive future?

There are already five generations of people represented in the global workforce. To harness the opportunity of this diverse workforce, we must foster inclusion and collaboration between generations. How we address age-inclusion will be a defining marker of our organizations.

1. Share

the Growing with Age message with your network.

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2. Take Action

by using tools, research, and case studies to help implement age-friendly practices in your workforce.

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3. Stay Informed

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