The social sector is in the midst of changing age demographics, providing a great opportunity to those organizations who choose to invest time and resources in building more age-inclusive, intergenerational environments.

There are now five generations in the workplace, bringing different communication and work style preferences. At the same time, organizations are always looking to develop new talent pipelines and emerging leaders, increase retention, and improve engagement. By developing more age-inclusive, intergenerational organizations, teams have the opportunity to thrive. Benefits of leveraging age-inclusive, intergenerational strategies include:

  • All voices and viewpoints are engaged, while diverse experiences and perspectives represented
  • A broad range of skillsets and expertise is represented on the team
  • Better understanding and appreciation of abilities and similarities between generations, leading to improved empathy and collaboration among staff
  • Improved cohesion, communication, and productivity among teams
  • Improved retention and engagement achieved through an increased sense of being a part of a team, feeling heard, understood and respected
  • Improved succession planning, leadership development and talent management, by leveraging older leaders to share knowledge and support younger leaders in their development
  • And finally, because of the aforementioned items, organizational strategic priorities, mission and outcomes can be more effectively achieved

However, age-discrimination and bias continue to exist; community-based programs often utilize an age-siloed approach; and broader equity, diversity and inclusion efforts don’t always intentionally include age. Now is the time to ensure our organizations actively recruit, include and engage people across all the generations.

How to Use this Toolkit

  1. Begin by completing the “How Age-Inclusive and Intergenerational is your Organization?” assessment. This will help your organization focus and prioritize efforts.
  2. If you choose not to take the assessment, review the descriptions of the six levers and determine areas of highest importance.
  3. Once organizations have prioritized initial focus on one or two specific levers, choose a couple of action items within those levers to advance and operationalize.
  4. Review any accompanying resources noted to further support your integration efforts. Each of these resources are intended to provide easy to follow instructions and checklists.

This toolkit and accompanying resources should be used in a flexible manner; organizations are encouraged to jump back and forth between sections, prioritizing levers and specific action items of interest, rather than reading cover to cover, trying to tackle everything at once. Based on the experiences of the Second Act cohort members, it is recommended organizations start small by selecting just one or two action items to test, to then get feedback from stakeholders, refine approach and try again with the knowledge gained. Using an experimental mindset will help build critical buy-in, create learning and momentum for future efforts.

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This comprehensive set of action items and resources have been developed through the experiences, missteps, lessons learned, and impacts achieved by the Second Acts for Strong Communities intergenerational initiative cohort, consisting of ten human-serving community-based organizations across the country. This cohort tested new approaches and models that intentionally engaged and leveraged older adult talent in community-based programs and workforces.

Each site in the Second Acts for Strong Communities cohort recruited and leveraged one grant-funded fellow, age 50 or older, who provided leadership on the initiative, supported the recruitment and placement of additional 50+ talent, and implemented strategies to increase age-inclusion and intergenerational cohesion among staff. Working in a learning community, the cohort gathered experiences, knowledge, replicable tools and approaches to scale age-inclusive, intergenerational models through the Alliance network and social sector.