A transatlantic partnership to harness intergenerational intelligence in the workplace

The UK’s National Innovation Centre for Ageing (NICA) together with VOICE has partnered with CIRKEL, a US-based company providing intergenerational networking services for two-way mentorships, learning, and connectedness in the workplace.

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The global workforce is ageing, and according to the Health equals wealth report, in 2018 people aged over 50 already account for nearly 1 in 3 workers (29% of the workforce) – up from 26% in 2004. Early predictions are that this could be up to 40% by 2035.

CIRKEL, together with NICA and VOICE, will launch their first ever workshop between the UK and the US to understand respective intergenerational communities, identifying gaps and areas of opportunity for the future of the workplace. They will gather intelligence on intergenerational exchanges in the workplace, looking to develop new approaches that leverage generational perspectives for lifelong learning.

Founded in 2018, CIRKEL connects people across generations to achieve personal and professional growth. Their community platform provides a space for intergenerational networking through a curated professional networking service and events that bring together people of all ages.

NICA and CIRKEL will work together to develop methodologies which leverage the growing evidence of the need for age-inclusive policies. These new tactics will also tap into the economic necessity of retaining the skills and experience of older workers and sharing this with their peers.

The “Health equals wealth: The global longevity dividend” report states, “If we tackle the avoidable barriers preventing older people from contributing, the longevity dividend could be large. If the G20 economies enabled older people to work at the rates seen in Iceland, they could see an average GDP gain of around 7% – or an aggregate GDP boost of USD3.7 trillion”.

NICA and CIRKEL look to create a new intergenerational pact within the workplace by harnessing the different knowledge and experiences of professionals across ages and by facilitating a dialogue between diverse audiences in a systematic and methodologically driven way. Together they will develop tools to connect generations in an age-segregated world for mutual learning and growth opportunities, in turn creating a more age-inclusive society. The result will be to publish a foundational document to be shared with businesses and organisations to help them harness skills in the workplace through intergenerational exchange.

Early in her career, Charlotte Japp, founder of CIRKEL, noticed a huge gap between those in their 20s who she worked with and baby boomers like her parents, who had decades of experience, but were forced to retire or start secondary careers due to ageist hiring trends. Her friends and colleagues wanted career mentorship and life advice, while her parents and their friends were looking for new skills and trend reports to stay relevant in their careers. That is when CIRKEL’s intergenerational platform was born.

She says: “We deeply believe that sharing perspectives, stories, knowledge, and skills across generations has the power to create value for companies and societies at large, as well individuals. By partnering with the talented teams at NICA and VOICE, we aim to accelerate this process and develop a global approach working with companies in the USA and UK. Together, we believe the longevity conversation extends far beyond elder care and end of life care, and we must also focus on professionals’ desire and need to work longer as they live longer lives.”

Professor Lynne Corner, Chief Operating Officer at NICA and Director of VOICE adds: “We are excited to partner with the wonderful team at CIRKEL – they share our ethos that cross-generational engagement and collaboration in the workplace is hugely beneficial to employees and to a business’s bottom line. Harnessing our collective intelligence is massively needed to help us understand and deliver on what is needed both now and in the future.

“Collective intelligence and experience are powerful assets. We have supported numerous initiatives to promote positive engagement and dialogue between generations. After all, healthy ageing is everyone’s business – and effective planning for longer life demands radically different approaches to life-long learning, skills and knowledge transfer, given the need for most to work longer and differently.”

NICA, who are based within Newcastle University, is the UK home of Ageing Intelligence®, which brings together data driven insight and human experiences to help bring new products, business models and services to market. One of the ways they harness human intelligence is through VOICE, a citizen network of more than 8000 people. This partnership is part of their work to help facilitate a society that is better equipped to meet the opportunities and challenges of an ageing population, helping to create a world in which we can all live healthier and longer lives.