The disruptive digital transformation is radically reshaping the world of work, and its transformation is also represented by the generational gap that disrupts the known balances.
The knowledge economy is bringing with it far greater changes than previous technological revolutions, and work, whether to be found or changed, is often experienced with an anxious mood.
The challenging new technologies and competition in the world of work are felt more strongly by the over 50s, who clearly find it more difficult and uncertain to approach a constantly evolving market, with which they may find it difficult to identify. In addition, two aspects that cannot be considered marginal complicate the scenario: the Covid 19 pandemic crisis and demographic changes with the consequent ageing of the population, which brings with it the need for continuous adaptation to the new demands of the world of work.
The progressive imbalance between the active and inactive population, which affects most European Union countries, has an impact on the dynamics of the labour market, which must be tackled with an overall vision from a political, economic and social point of view.
To ensure that the digital era is inclusive, it is necessary to guarantee business models capable of integrating the valorisation of intellectual capital with the extension of working life, avoiding a premature exit from the market for the over 50s.
“The Covid-19 pandemic led to the creation of new assets in the labour market. Companies have had to face new challenges in an interconnected world where scenarios have changed rapidly, as well as the mindset of future workers. Changing jobs at 50 can be difficult, but not impossible. One of the main obstacles for the over 50s is the fear of not being able to compete with younger professional workers, because the lack of self-confidence in a job transition phase can be impaired. It is therefore necessary to adopt a positive attitude, to believe in oneself, in the awareness of one’s own abilities and in the added value of one’s own experience, which is still an important plus in any type of organisation, and to work on hard skills.”
Work and education are increasingly inseparable: this is even more true for the over 50s.
Enriching one’s cultural and educational background is a great way to enhance one’s CV and have a better chance of retraining in a hyper-competitive labour market, where there is always something new to learn or a change to adapt to.
“High levels of resilience are demanded of professionals today, driving the need to acquire new skills. You can join follow upskilling programmes that aim to get the worker to develop new skills in their field, a kind of knowledge upgrade. Or through reskilling, in which skills can be acquired for a role other than one’s own, a true retraining programme. It is important for a company to send out the message of age inclusion. Older workers are going back to school and that’s nothing to be ashamed of.”
The ageing of the workforce within an organisation can be addressed through policies and initiatives aimed at exploiting the strengths of different generations.
According to this approach the change of work culture is based on new paradigms.
The generation gap is no longer seen as a problem to be solved by a premature exit of the over 50s, but as an opportunity for growth for all. Seniors, who have relational skills deriving from their professional and personal experience, and juniors, who have technical skills deriving from their knowledge of technology, are united in a structured process to express their full potential, each in their own field.
The workplace is intended as a cultural learning environment. Everyone should have the opportunity to improve themselves regardless of age. There are different styles and different methods of learning. One way is certainly represented by reverse mentoring, a kind of inverse mentoring where the senior, the learner, learns from the junior, the mentor. This practice allows for an effective exchange of information: seniors are brought up to date by a wealth of digital knowledge that they could hardly have acquired independently. The younger ones gain experience of business dynamics and learn problem solving. Both develop critical thinking, improve intergenerational relations and create a cohesive and conflict-free team.
Human resources is certainly one of the fields of knowledge that is most sensitive to the changes affecting the labour market on a daily basis, because it deals with the overall management of the company organisation.
Human resources management is a vital role because it draws up staff development plans to enhance the skills of all resources and manages training activities. Moreover, it is strategic because it plays an active role in making employees part of the company culture: HR professionals help to drive business transformation and make their organisation future-oriented.
“This is an exciting and challenging time to be an HR, because you take an active part in changing an organisation. Young workers are the protagonists of this change and the historical context of the post-pandemic, this is the best moment to implement it. The past is past, the future is now, and with this dictum we work to create a new professional image. In this context, employer branding is a key factor in attracting new talent. HR Analytics are also in high demand in the market because understanding data is becoming more and more important every day in business decisions. But these are just examples because there are so many opportunities. But it is important to follow your own inclinations and not limit yourself in doing so. You have to hone your skills and get in line with what companies are looking for.”
Natasha Valentine is a dynamic HR professional with over 20 years in the HR field. Natasha’s experience, passions and expertise include recruitment, policies and procedures. She currently works as the Program Director of the Full Time Master in Human Resources Management and the Specialized Master in HR & Organization at Rome Business School.
“One of the pleasures of my role is interacting with young students from all over the world and seeing them embrace and grow in this field. Having a small part in helping someone along their career path and seeing them develop reminds me why I enjoy helping others.”
As an experienced senior HR leader, Natasha has used her HR background and a blend of experience within the teaching process to influence positive change for those she teaches.