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Connexus : Issue 43
H uman resource management theory suggests that a mix of young and older workers can boost an organisation's problem-solving skills and build its appeal to a broad customer base. The challenge for managers lies below the surface. Ensuring that people of different ages get along and feel respected and valued by management, as well as each other, is not always easy. Reviewing recruitment practices and performance management tools can help, suggests Sydney Business School academic Dr Leanne Cutcher. Her studies of age diversity in organisations -- including a number of credit unions – confrm the widely accepted view that some recruitment professionals have diffculty getting past their frst impression that some people are too old for the job they're trying to fll. Cutcher, an associate professor in work and organisational studies, says it may be unsurprising that many employers link youth with vitality, energy and innovation, but they should never overlook the commercial benefts of having workers who mirror their customers. A fnding from her current research project 'Managing Age in Organisations' is more surprising. It reveals that even in organisations where recr uitment practices are designed to promote diversity, managers need to actively foster respect between people of different ages. Respect for young and old While most would be alert to the need for young workers to show respect to older colleagues, Cutcher says they also need to make sure it fows the other way. A good mix Having a range of ages in your workforce can strengthen relationships with customers and build employee engagement. BY CAROLYN RANCE 44 Connexus People