Age is just a number after all but there are more and more cases making the headlines of employment tribunals associated with age related matters.
Unlike their non-family counterparts, family firms in most cases are driven by family values, shared vision and purpose, and to a certain extent recognise the value that the older generation can bring to the business - Years of knowledge, custodianship, passion and drive to succeed and pass the business on to the next generation.
Of course there are tricky times, when the next generation are ready to step up and the older generation may not be quite ready to let go, but family firms are able to harness the knowledge and value built up over many years by the retiring generation.
Far removed from simply 'putting the older generation out to pasture,' family firms make the most of the older generation, finding roles for them to continue to add value to the business, as ambassadors, mentors, trustees and roles on bodies such as the family council.
The world has become transfixed with numbers and age being a determinant but we do see family firms embracing skills in a more dynamic way and not being solely driven by age.
Long may it continue too.
Research shows that family business protégés — the incoming younger generation — report being most satisfied with mentors who were “still directly involved and active in their family companies rather than retired.” Those same protégés wanted a mentor who seemed invested and interested in their personal development. Mentoring is a critical issue for sustaining a multi-generational family business. Guidance has to be given to younger, less experienced workers. More importantly, the next generation of leaders needs to learn what it means to run a business, juggle employee personalities, and make difficult decisions.