· Features

How to attract and motivate a multigenerational workforce

International Older People’s Day is a timely reminder of the value older people bring to the workplace

There are more than a million people working over the age of 65 and they play an increasingly vital role in today’s workforce, especially in light of the skills and productivity challenges employers are facing. The European Commission has calculated that the pool of young people available to work is shrinking and that we must do more to encourage older people back into work.

At McDonald’s, we believe that great people are vital to a great customer experience. We recognise that older workers have a lifetime of training and on-the-job experience under their belts, which can help to deliver a great experience for everyone who visits our restaurants and benefit colleagues too. We are proud of our intergenerational team; whether that is the 10,000 young people who get their first taste of work with us every year, or our growing base of older workers.

Around 5% of McDonald's restaurant staff are aged 45 or over, and there are nearly 1,000 people aged 60 or over employed across the business. Take 90-year-old Bill Dudley, our oldest worker in the UK. A war veteran and former taxi-driver, Dudley works two six-hour shifts a week at his local restaurant where he looks after customer care. He is a favourite among customers and a great role model for his younger colleagues.

Of course having four generations working together brings its challenges too. How can we motivate and support later life workers, while also providing the right opportunities for younger employees?

It comes down to three things. Flexibility – providing roles that fit with our employees’ lifestyles and life choices. Future – providing great opportunities for progression and development at every age. And family – creating a caring environment so staff of all ages and backgrounds feel valued and supported. We work hard to foster a culture of camaraderie where all team members feel they have a future with us.

It is also important to listen to staff and understand what is most important to them at different stages of their lives and careers. We give thousands of young people their first employment experience and they tell us they value the opportunity to build workplace confidence and gain new qualifications. At the other end of the spectrum, older workers like Dudley tell us they aren’t ready to retire yet and they want flexible work that can fit around their grandchildren and lifestyle.

All of our people – young and old – have a huge amount to contribute to our business, to our customers and to each other. And on International Older People's Day, which is about championing the UK’s older people, I want to thank later life workers for their vital efforts and reiterate our commitment to supporting them now and in the future.

Claire Hall is chief people officer at McDonald’s UK