RBAC is in an interesting season of life. RBAC is essentially a start-up, having turned two years old in its current state recently. We have an intergenerational workplace where of the 38 workers, 23 are between the age of 15-24. Essentially RBAC pays young people who are transitioning into adulthood to implement strategies called out in the Rainier Beach Neighborhood Plan. Not only is this an economic development strategy of RBAC i.e., putting money in the household of low-income residents – it contributes to preventing displacement. Anyway, being an intergenerational workplace requires work, To this end 12 of us met, half of whom were young adults, and came up with two lists, one entitled “Intergenerational Workplace – Climate improvement and Professional Development” and “Taking the Intergenerational workforce to the Next Level”.
“Intergenerational Workplace – Climate improvement and Professional Development”
- Be like Amanda – invested, interested in co-workers, affirmative, supportive and welcoming
- Have awareness of sensitivities towards the generations e.g., older folk – value their experience, not just “the old way of thinking”)
- Flashback into the past and the future
- Value an environment where education is passed down and passed up
- Wisdom and new trends goes down and comes up
- Personal and professional, not personal vs professional
- Have a team that works on workplace climate so a platform exist to help with this type of discussion
- Emphasize open mindedness and positivity
- If someone is having a bad day adjust how you speak to them so that you can better interact with them, change your energy, get a better feel for people around you
- Be affirming of each other, uplifting, supportive
- Reach out and touch someone – phone call, text
- Have opportunities to interact together – we have RBAC Meals and Town Halls, even that’s not enough
- Have team building exercising and practices
- Be mindful how you are giving and receiving feedback
- Have regard for age whether younger or older
“Taking the Intergenerational Workforce to the Next Level”.
- Resist stereotypes
- Don’t be so quick to dismiss it, acknowledge and see the middle ground -its gotta go both sides
- Recognize the power dynamic with the older folk who does a lot of the program design
- Participation beyond these systems we create together
- Pet peeve is absolutism e.g., when accused of Adultism it can’t be 100% the case, it might be ageism
- The intent is was matters
- Nurturing and challenging it goes both ways – young people can nurture older people also, go the extra step
- The fact we are all in it together needs to be emphasized, we are on the same team
- We all can exhibit antisocial behavior, identify the behaviors that contribute to it, take into account that healing is needed because we live in a toxic culture. Hurt people hurt people
- Create spaces to show creativity as a way to show, tell, teach – music, food, cultures, religion, artistic skills – events
- People need to get to the place where they don’t take things so personally – its not alway about you
- Don’t think so hard about deliverables we have to meet because of contracts, find freedom where we just get to know our neighbors – this is the core of our work
- Meet people at their heart level – sometimes we have to show up for people when they are in the moment, keeping human connections
On February 4th, 2020 at the RBAC weekly Lead Team Meeting there was an important discussion about our intergenerational workforce. The RBAC squad has been working continuously on supporting a healthy, positive work environment, and while this can be challenging in any workplace, there are particular advantages and challenges for a workforce that ranges from 15 to 45+.
RBAC workers participated in an exercise where there was a board with age ranges posted on a board, and everyone wrote their name on a piece of paper and tacked it under their age range. After this visual was created, RBAC staff had an open conversation about the importance of an intergenerational workforce, the struggles, and the solutions. One worker said, “Be like Amanda: invested, interested in co-workers, affirmative and supportive, and welcoming.” referring to RBAC staffer Amanda Lopez-Castanon.
Besides this instructive conversation, RBAC created a Smooth Operations Team to ensure that the office is running effortlessly. They created a box where you can leave comments, kudos, etc and there is the option to remain anonymous on your comment card. These cards ensure that everyone can voice their opinions without judgment.
All of the work we do is geared toward the benefit of the Rainier Beach Community. Since we are learning how to work together regardless of generation, we can take the same principles into the neighborhood.