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HCI Webinar: Using Reverse Mentoring to Bridge the Generational Divide in the Workforce, with Julie Noonan

In the latest HCI Webinar, Dr. Jonathan H. Westover talks with Julie Noonan about using reverse mentoring to bridge the generational divide in the workforce. Below is a summary of the main points from their conversation! Check out the full episode and let us know what you think!


Watch the episode here:


Quick Recap


Jonathan and Julie discussed the issue of generational divides in the workforce, the importance of reverse mentoring, and the problem of ageism. They also emphasized the harmful effects of stereotypes and biases in the workplace, the importance of assessing a candidate's skills and competencies, and the need for mentoring programs. They further discussed the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the workforce and the challenges of remote work.


Generational Divides and Ageism in the Workforce


Jonathan and Julie discussed the issue of generational divides in the workforce, with Jonathan highlighting the need to find effective ways for different generations to work together, such as through reverse mentoring. They also discussed the problem of ageism in the workforce. Julie shared her personal experience of being laid off at 57, which led her to focus on ageism and the potential of intergenerational collaboration. They agreed that ageism was not only illegal but also counterproductive, as it meant losing valuable experience and knowledge.


Generational Bias in Hiring Process


Jonathan and Julie discussed the importance of identifying and addressing biases in the hiring process, particularly regarding generational assumptions. Julie shared her research findings and personal experiences, highlighting the common stereotypes about baby boomers and their perceived fear of technology and lack of innovation. She also introduced the concept of reverse mentoring, a concept originally coined by Jack Welch at GE. This approach involves pairing younger and older generations to share knowledge and skills in a non-hierarchical manner. Jonathan expressed his support for the idea, acknowledging its potential power.


Combating Ageism and Discrimination in the Workplace


Jonathan and Julie discussed the harmful effects of stereotypes and biases in the workplace, particularly in terms of ageism and discrimination. They emphasized the importance of assessing a candidate's skills and competencies rather than relying on assumptions based on their age, gender, race, or other factors. They suggested the implementation of mentoring programs, both formal and informal, to foster a culture of learning and development. They also highlighted the fear of obsolescence among baby boomers and the need for a work environment that encourages questions and seeking help. Julie mentioned conducting research on the topic with her client base, which confirmed the prevalence of these issues.


Age and Value in the Workplace


Julie expressed her concerns about potentially being seen as obsolete due to her age and the fear of being assigned to special projects. She emphasized the importance of recognizing when one can still provide value to an organization, particularly in light of the younger baby boomer generation's desire to continue contributing. She also highlighted the value of experience in preventing recurring problems.


Covid-19 Workforce Transformation Discussed


Julie and Jonathan discussed the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the workforce, particularly the younger generations. They acknowledged that the pandemic has accelerated changes in work culture, including the introduction of remote work, a focus on work-life balance, and an emphasis on diversity and collaboration. They also highlighted the need for organizations to adapt to these changes, with Jonathan pointing out that attempting to revert to pre-pandemic norms would be unsuccessful. They warned against dismissing the contributions of younger generations in the workforce, emphasizing the importance of leveraging the full human capital capacity of all employees to ensure organizational success.


Remote Work and Intergenerational Dialogue


Julie and Jonathan discussed the challenges of remote work and the importance of intergenerational dialogue and mentorship. They agreed on the need for openness, transparency, and knowledge sharing, recognizing that everyone has areas for development. They suggested shifting from a deficit approach to a strength-based approach and encouraged continuous learning at all stages of a career. Jonathan and Julie also provided details on how to connect with Julie for further information and advice.


Listen to the webinar here:




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