By Donal Laverty, Consulting Partner 

It’s been said that an effective organisation is a community of human beings, not a collection of human resources. This has never been truer than now.

When once there was a mechanistic element to operating a business or large organisation, today we see businesses as multifaceted ecosystems that reimagine and reinvent themselves over time, rather than machines with linear systems and controls.

The pace of change in this direction can be challenging, but there is excitement to be found as hierarchies are reimagined, employees gain more autonomy, and many excel in jobs that didn’t exist 10-15 years ago.

With that, however, brings the need for leadership with a new type of logic. The fundamental characteristic of an ecosystem is that it is complex and at times chaotic. That can seem overwhelming in the context of running a business, but leaders should embrace new operating styles and nurture a culture of change and evolution.

One area where an embracing and adaptive style of leadership is required is the development of multigenerational workforces. We are an ageing population that is working longer, retiring later, and in some cases outliving our actual job roles.

This changes the lifecycle of an organisation, and brings differing expectations from multiple generations of employees, generations who have all been shaped by different social and economic factors. Keeping all those individuals happy and productive is therefore a challenge.

In these cases, it is the employers who successfully combine the talents and diverse outlooks of all employees that will positively enrich their productivity levels. An older person’s skillset, experience, and general outlook on life exposes younger people to new perspectives, as they often take a different approach to problem solving and can have a more resilient attitude.

Young people, comparatively, bring fresh ideas and enthusiasm in a world of rapid digital transformation, but having been brought up and educated differently, can have accelerated expectations in the workplace which have no doubt been exacerbated by the pandemic and ongoing talent shortages.

It is the leaders that seek to capitalise on the similarities that do exist in a multigenerational workforce and promote effective social dialogue across a team of Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Millennials and Gen Z that will best mobilise, maintain, and manage their evolving ecosystem.

This multigenerational workforce is just one change in how we do things. It’s also about how we work, where we work, and when we choose to do it. All of this has shifted and is no longer simple or linear, requiring organisations and leaders to be malleable, receptive to change, and to wear their leadership role loosely.

This article first appeared in the January edition of Business Eye. To discuss any aspect please get in touch with Donal Laverty T: 028 9032 3466 or email