A balanced mix of generations
The youngest team member at CSS is just 15 years old, the oldest 68. A full 53 years of life and work and two generations lie between them. «The future viability of companies depends not only on the ability to work, but also on the engagement of employees of all ages,» explains Dr. Prof. Martin Klaffke, generation researcher and publisher of the book Generationen Management. Generation management increases employer attractiveness and exploits the potential of mixed-age workforces to the benefit of employees and companies alike, the expert says. A balanced mix of generations is also something worth striving for in view of demographic developments and the shortage of skilled workers.
CSS also considers it important to integrate all the generations and the potential they bring into the working world. As a result, the Diversity & Inclusion project was launched around 2 years ago. «The aim of this project is to boost staff diversity at CSS and leverage it to achieve economic and societal successes at CSS,» HR Head Daniel Zimmermann explains. In 2021, the focus falls on generation management. Driving the project are Barbara Schär-Danz and Simona Götz: «We’re currently concentrating on the coexistence of generations and have introduced various measures to raise awareness of the topic and see it established.» The work of the two HR consultants is based, among other things, on the ‘late career’ research project run by the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland and the University of St. Gallen, in which CSS also participated.
Diversity in every sense
As the research project shows, CSS employees are younger on average than in other insurance companies. In particular, the proportion of men over the age of 50 – at 20% – is significantly lower than the industry average (31%). «Of course, age alone is not the only factor on which staff diversity depends. Gender, nationality, language, religion, mindset and health are also key aspects», Simona Götz explains. And yet age is relevant, because a person's career path, qualifications and marital status are closely linked to it. A baby boomer born in 1960 is undoubtedly in a different phase of life than a millennial from Generation Y who completed their education or professional training only 2 or 3 years ago. «It’s crucial that all generations play a role in the company, each with their different values, experience and knowledge,» Barbara Schär-Danz emphasises.
Active knowledge transfer
From the research project, Barbara and Simona identified various fields of action for CSS, including the particularly important area of knowledge transfer. Starting with the recruitment process itself, the sourcing team addresses the subject with line managers in order to encourage the development of mixed-age teams. A mix of generations is also valuable in project teams to ensure that staff consciously transfer their knowledge. Plans are under way to introduce more measures that will link the knowledge of younger and older employees at work even more effectively and thereby strengthen cross-generational thinking and cooperation.
Where do I stand in my career?
Another important aspect is generation-based career development. Questions such as «Where do I stand in my career? Am I sufficiently challenged or perhaps overchallenged? How could my professional future develop?» must be included in annual assessments. These questions will help staff open up to the idea of change. In addition, such questions can be used as a starting point to assess a person’s employability. «Am I sufficiently trained for the requirements of my job today? Will my expertise and experience still be in demand tomorrow? How can I maintain my value in the labour market?» These are all questions that the 50+ seminar addresses too. In addition, a webinar on labour market skills is also planned.
Various perspectives are enriching
CSS is using these measures – with others in the pipeline – to promote collaboration across all generations and reap the benefits of a generation mix. For the project team, it is clear: «We're convinced of the value of different perspectives and aim to harness the diversity of each generation’s perspectives to shape the future together. Whether it's generation management or the entire Diversity & Inclusion project, the important thing is that the topics all reflect the fact that we live this culture – and that we are this culture!»