Tags: workplace management, industry insights, HR & Development...

One of the biggest mistakes that employers can make is failing to plan for the future.

It was perhaps understandable for companies to take a short-term view of their organisation and industry at the height of the financial crisis - after all, many firms were doing everything they could to survive on a day-to-day basis. 

However, with the economy expected to mount a continued recovery in 2014, it is high time that businesses started to implement a long-term strategy. 

Why multi-generational workforces are so important

A new study conducted by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development (CIPD) showed that 31 per cent of business leaders only react to problems caused by an ageing population when they happen, while 22 per cent admitted they have no policies or systems in place to ensure workers constantly update their skills. 

This short sightedness is a significant problem, as the UK's population is ageing and there is a danger that experienced and highly-skilled workers will retire, leaving a huge void that nobody is capable of filling. 

There has been a lot of talk about skills shortages in recent months, with some employers in certain sectors suggesting that talented youngsters who are ready to make an instant impact within their organisation are hard to come by. 

Government bodies across Europe are concerned that this situation could snowball and the dearth of engineers, IT experts and other high-tech professionals leaving university or taking apprenticeships could stifle economic progress. 

Claire McCartney - research advisor at the CIPD - explained that companies should be looking to create multi-generational workforces. 

Although having a diverse team made up of people from all ages can create culture clashes, it is vital that workers learn from each other. 

"Despite well-publicised skills shortages and low productivity, our research shows that businesses are not doing enough to recruit from an increasingly age diverse talent pool. And even amongst those companies that are, many simply aren't equipped to manage their age diverse teams in order to maximise their potential," Ms McCartney commented. 

"This is a missed opportunity and could put businesses at a serious disadvantage in a four-generation future."

Is there hope for businesses? 

While the findings of the CIPD study are concerning, it seems that employers are keen to increase the diversity of their workforces.

"The good news is that both employers and employees recognise the benefits that workers from different generations bring," Ms McCartney continued. 

Around 42 per cent of firms said they now offer flexible working patterns for older staff, allowing them to work for longer, which in turn gives their younger colleagues more time to benefit from their experience. 

Of course, one of the biggest challenges facing employers is finding youngsters who can hit the ground running. 

There have been widespread suggestions that graduates are not being taught enough practical skills that will add instant value to a business, which might explain why more firms are looking to increase the number of apprentices on their books. 

The UK's Department for Business, Innovation & Skills recently stated that 44 per cent of companies plan to hire apprentices in the next five years, compared with just 36 per cent of firms that said likewise last year. 

Some 38 per cent of the 600 businesses that took part in the survey stated that apprentices had widened the amount of talented people available to them. 

It's important to remember that there are highly-skilled, driven and enthusiastic people out there who would fit into your organisation seamlessly. Finding these individuals can be tricky, however, which is why more businesses are working alongside specialist recruitment agencies. 

These organisations have access to an extensive database of candidates and are able to cherry pick the best people for your vacant roles. 

With companies expected to report further growth in 2014 and beyond, it makes sense for firms to take a step back and assess their current hiring policies and techniques. 

Are you really planning for the future, or are you failing to take heed of the wider picture? Now is the time to change your approach.