The UK unemployment rate has edged up to 3.9% from a 44 year record low of 3.8%.   Whilst changes may be afoot soon, a continuing low unemployment rate will present ongoing challenges in the area of retention and recruitment for many employers.

Top talent is in more demand than ever and more positions are available for them to choose from.  This adds increasing pressure on better candidate attraction and selection processes, as well as employee engagement and retention strategies as employees begin to question whether they should leave for perceived better opportunities.

I've developed multiple people strategies throughout my career to tackle the challenges of employee retention and engagement, particularly in roles and disciplines that are already facing a skills shortage.  But one size does not fit all and my latest interesting new challenge is achieving this in a multi-generational workforce.

For the first time in history we live in a time when up to 4 or 5 generations of employees can all work together in one business.  

I'm four months in to my new role as Director of HR & Training at Pick Everard and I have been struck by the huge amount of skillset knowledge across our age diverse workforce.  The wide ranging experiences, attitudes and ideas we have serves us well and provides incredible potential for all of our employees to learn from each other and excel in their work.  

A multi-generational workforce provides an exciting environment in which innovation and fresh thinking can mix in with rich experience and perspectives.  It also means that each generation of worker will have different attributes, different life needs, different motivators and varying values.  How do we appeal to everyone?  How do we close the gap between the generations to ensure a happy and engaged workplace?

Key themes that can help engage and retain our people are broadly the same regardless of age, yet what these themes mean to different generations and what their motivators are will vary. Themes generally include, for example:

- Employee communication and engagement

- Work-life balance

- Career development and professional growth

- Fostering an inclusive and diverse culture

- Recognising, valuing and rewarding employees 

- Effective and inspiring management and leadership

As I continue to develop and implement new people strategies and practices at Pick Everard I'll be looking to understand and account for what different generations need and want.  Deeper analysis over the attributes of different generations and what their drivers are will be important.  How they wish to be communicated with, how much involvement they want and what inclusion means to them will be interesting to consider.  

We'll also look at our values and behaviours as a Practice which will help provide a clear common ground in our expectations of each other other, including how we all interact and collaborate with each other.  There'll also be new opportunity for our learning and development strategies to provide greater choice, more opportunity for traditional and reverse mentoring and crucially how we prepare our managers for managing diverse ages.   Career advancement will also look different for different employees so having a stronger distinction between progression and promotion may help.  

Our reward and recognition will seek to ensure that we can share in our success together, whilst enjoying recognition in an individual way.  Choice again will be important.  

All in all, employers have always needed a diverse and broad approach to employee retention and a multi-generational workforce stretches this even further.  Such age diverse workforces offer clear advantage, stronger resilience and they are here to stay.   It's vital that employers review their people strategies with this in mind, not only to retain the shifting and aging talent they already have but also to be well equipped to welcome the next generation and those beyond that.