Managing a Multigenerational Workforce: Biases & Mindset Change

You are here:
YouTube  Apple Podcasts Spotify Google Stitcher TuneIn  RSS
Managing a Multigenerational Workforce: Biases & Mindset Change

Welcome to another exciting episode of All About HR! This is the series for HR Professionals and business leaders who want to future-proof their organization and learn about the latest trends & insights from industry experts, CHROs, and thought leaders. 

What are the benefits and challenges of a multigenerational workforce? In this episode of All About HR season 2, we talk with Dr. Eliza Filby — Generations & Aging Expert — on the key to successfully managing a multigenerational workforce.

Eliza is a writer, speaker, and podcaster whose research focuses on the multigenerational workforce — including how to manage it and how to recognize changing behaviors. 

In this video, we discuss: 

  • Ageism as a shared experience 
  • Managing a multigenerational workforce: common challenges & HR’s role 
  • How to enable young leaders to manage older colleagues 

Watch the full episode to discover the role of HR in helping organizations overcome ageism biases and challenges to effectively manage a multigenerational workforce!


Related (free) resource ahead! Continue reading below ↓

D&I Survey Guide

D&I is a demonstrated benefit to business. Download your free guide to help identify inclusivity blind spots that may affect your employees and your business.

Eliza Filby: Ageism is one of the most corrosive things in society. The old have historically patronized the young for being lazy, entitled and privileged. And the young have patronized the old for being conservative, stuck in the status quo, and unwilling to change. That is as old as time — that tension. And in our workplaces, it’s so corrosive. There’s such a lack of empathy we have for people of a different generation.

Neelie Verlinden: Hi, everyone, and welcome to another episode of All About HR. My name is Neelie. I’m your host. And for today’s episode, I got to sit down with Dr Eliza Filby. Eliza is a writer, a speaker, and also a podcaster on the history of generations, aging, and the family. And we are going to talk about the multi-generational workforce and how to manage that, among other things. I, for one, cannot wait to get started. But before we do so, if you haven’t done so yet, we’d really appreciate it if you could subscribe to the channel, hit that notification bell. and like this video.

Neelie Verlinden: Welcome to another episode of All About HR. 

Neelie Verlinden: Now, let me welcome Eliza to the show. Hi there, Eliza. How are you?

Eliza Filby: Hello. Well, hot. London is very much in the height of summer.

Neelie Verlinden: Yeah, that is a very rare occurrence, isn’t it? Just like in the Netherlands over here.

[Upskill] Become a D&I Leader Diversity, Equity,
Inclusion & Belonging Certificate
D&I Fundations, Inclusive communication, Intercultural differences and Cultural Change. Learn everything you need to become a Diversity & Inclusion Leader.
Download Syllabus

Eliza Filby: Indeed, it feels quite tropical and unfamiliar. 

Neelie Verlinden: Yeah, I know. I know the feeling. Let’s see if we can get a conversation, well, not to call us down. But to cool us off. But yeah, let’s get started. Perhaps Eliza, you can start by telling our listeners a little bit more about you and about the work you do. And yeah, then in particular, of course, the work you do regarding different generations. 

Eliza Filby: Yeah. So in a way, this is a career and a job title that I invented myself. And I started life or working life, at least, as an academic historian studying the 1980s and 1990s. Being interested in that period that had really shaped my childhood and it really shaped my generation, the millennial generation. But actually, I became really interested in the different generational identities and how they were forged. What were the nuances within them? Are they global entities? Because you even talk about a global Gen Z or a global baby boom, for example. And it came at a time when there were increasing, I think, differences and divisions emerging across the generations, particularly after the 2008 final financial crisis where, you know, really hit Millennials hard. And there was a growing inequality across the generations and a growing realization that baby boomers, in many respects, were the exceptional generation, the way they were able to accumulate wealth. And now, of course, that’s only intensified with Generation Z coming through, being a very distinct generation for millennials makes Millennials feel very old. So what I really wanted to do was was study the different generations across the world and get a real sense as they were evolving because no generation is static, right? How are they evolving as workers? We now have four generations in the workplace. How are they evolving as consumers? Baby boomers are the fastest growing demographic on social media, for example. And then finally, how are they evolving as citizens and the ways in which generational issues play out in politics and society at large? And I also wanted to share that knowledge with businesses and brands because I felt that there was, within academia, quite a confined understanding of disseminating your knowledge to other academics and to students. But I was really interested in helping businesses understand not only their consumer base of which they have a lot of data and generational analysis, just one part of that but also workers of which there are fewer data. But as we know, post-pandemic, it is incredibly, incredibly important. So I wanted to start sharing and packaging that research up for businesses to help them and kind of empower them to think about a multigenerational consumer and multigenerational work as a challenge, yes, but also a real opportunity. And that leads to two final aspects of my research, which is aging, and I study the history of aging and how that’s evolving. You know, a 50-year-old woman today looks very different in terms of beauty aspirations, outlook, and illness than a 50-year-old woman, it’s really obvious to say, back in the 1960s, or even the 1980s. So how we age differently, and what living longer in an aging society means, particularly on the European continent, which is the aging continent. Then finally, a lot permeates public discussion around generations and their divisions, but actually, generations as a concept makes sense, really, within the family. That’s when it’s realized, right? You breed the next generation. You look after the older generation. That’s where it has meaning, more than our workspace, our politics and our consumer space. So I was interested in that evolution of the family because actually, families now pretty much across the world are closer in terms of the way in which they’re living, in terms of their economic dependency, in terms of their care dependency, and in terms of their cultural affiliation. The families have been historically, so this idea of we’re actually living in the golden age of family, although prefacing that, the family makeup looks very different for all sorts of reasons of second marriages and blended families and all these chosen families, all sorts of ways in which the family is different. But that was kind of what interests me, and I wanted to help brands and businesses and services and governments actually understand demographics and generational differences better in order really to prepare for the future. 

Neelie Verlinden: Wow! I think it’s a beautiful, yeah, I’m gonna call it a mission, I think to have.

Eliza Filby: It is a mission. Yeah, it is a mission. And it’s a mission because I feel quite passionate about this. So I’m gonna get excited today, but ageism is one of the most corrosive things in society. And it goes both ways and it is old as time. The old have historically patronized the young for being lazy, entitled and privileged. And the young have patronized the old for being conservative, stuck in the status quo, and unwilling to change. That is as old as time — that tension. And in our workplaces, it’s so corrosive. There’s such a lack of empathy we have for people of a different generation. And yet, it’s the thing we experience. All of us experience being young, and all of us experience getting older. And so therefore, theoretically, we should have more empathy. But also surveys show that within the workplace, at least, employees are more likely to have empathy with people of a different race, gender, sexuality, or political views than they are for a different generation. And that plays out in a really corrosive way in businesses, but also, you see, in advertising, the way in which you know, beauty products are just overwhelmingly fronted by women under 30 even though the majority of women buying luxury beauty products are over 50. There is ageism that is rife in the advertising space, but also, you know, in the politics in the UK. It’s dominated by to a certain extent serving baby boomers interests at the expense of the young. 

Neelie Verlinden: Absolutely. And by the way, I don’t think that is the case just in the UK, I think you’re absolutely right. And I find it very interesting what you’re saying there as well about that. We tend to be more understanding towards people from a different race or a different background than we are towards people that are from a different generation, I find that a very interesting one. And I think this is maybe a nice bridge as well to our topic of today, Eliza, if that’s okay with you because what we are going to talk about specifically today is, of course, the multi-generational workforce. And I think that it would make sense to start with what do we actually mean by that. It might be self-explanatory, but maybe you know, it’s good for our listeners as well to just start with what do we actually mean by this multi-generational workforce.

Eliza Filby: Yes. So what we’re basically talking about is currently, we have four generations in the workplace. You know, who’s to say, some businesses may already have five generations in the workplace. And certainly, as we have an aging society, and people are working longer, this problem is not going away. So this is a business problem that may be apparent now and will, I think, be apparent and become ever more of a challenge later on. So it really should be at the forefront of your business strategy and your D&I thinking. So looking at age, diversity, and the strength that it can bring to your business is really important. I think, for example, many tech industries are held back by having quite a millennial monoculture. You know, I’ve worked for tech companies where the average age of a worker is like 27 or 28. And you need that diversity to bring in that experience, that richness of skills, and the strength of experienced workers as well as the energy of youth. So equally though, I’ve seen in more traditional industries like law, banking, and business services overall, where you have a real challenge of an older demographic saddled at the top completely disconnected from their younger employees who have a very different mindset when it comes to work. So part of my role, I see it as almost intellectual like, can I get you to understand each other better? That’s my goal. When I get up on stage or when I do talks or write pieces, or do my podcast, is can we actually contextualize people’s experiences? Because generational categories are really quite arbitrary. Yeah, it’s not about going in and going, Oh, my God, you’re such a Gen Zer, or you’re such a millennial, or you’re such a boomer. It’s more about understanding the fact that we are all a product of a very specific time. And can we understand someone by understanding the time in which they were born? It’s a part of the reason people are the way they are. It’s not the only reason. But certainly, people’s age quite often determines their experience of life, and particularly their experience of work. So the first thing is, can I get them to empathize with each other? And quite often, I get to do that by giving everyone a history lesson of how the different generations evolved. The second thing is much more practical. Okay, so what can you actually do to really bring this age diversity that you have to fruition and to ensure that they are working alongside each other and bringing out the best in each other rather than rubbing up against each other? Now, the problem I think businesses have is they obsess about young people; they obsess about young people and recruiting young people and the retention of young people principally because young people are cheap. What they forget about are the older workers. And quite often I find myself on stage trying to convince — maybe not HR directors because I think they’re more probably, you know, they are head of people, they understand talent in the round, but perhaps other senior executives that the older workers are the ones you need to be investing in as much as the younger workers, because they’re going to be around a lot longer than you think. So really, again, is that intellectual background leading to empathy, and then those practical driven solutions on how you can bring these people together, how you can create tailored solutions to your Gen Z recruitment problem? Are you marketing in the right way? Are you envisioning their work in the way they envision work? Are you thinking about their attitudes towards money and how you are selling work, perks, and salary? Really practical things that the best companies in the world are doing that are addressing this multi-generational challenge.

Neelie Verlinden: Yeah. And speaking of that, Eliza, can you tell us a little bit more as well about some common themes that you see organizations struggle with when it comes to managing a multi-generational workforce? So I guess one of these would be that, yes, they might need to create more empathy between people in the organization for one another, but yeah, what are some of the common themes that you encountered?

HR 2025
Competency Assessment

Do you have the competencies needed to remain relevant? Take the 5 minute assessment to find out!

Start Free Assessment

Eliza Filby: I think, misunderstanding, certainly, and helping each generation understand their attitude towards technology, for example. You know, it’s quite a revelation to anyone over 60 that for anyone under 25, the iPhone is not technology, just like for anyone over 65, the kettle is not technology, and understanding the context in which these kids have been born, and quite often have had, you know, a smartphone in their pocket since they were 13 and have had access to the world’s information. And there was a marketplace with the capacity to speak truth to power, embarrassing brands, expecting a level of transparency, expecting a level of customization, expecting a sense of FOMO and comparison culture that social media has bred. These are all things that are infiltrating the workplace now, and Gen Z’s mindset is really conditioning their view of work. So I think first of all, like, let’s understand everyone’s context. The second thing is, okay, we have post-pandemic, a real conversation around the point and purpose of the office. Now the problem is, if you’ve got a multigenerational workforce in a hybrid environment, they’re not actually seeing and encountering each other as much as they once were. So we need to envision what the office is for the expansion of social networks and learning, and that learning has to be face to face and ideally through osmosis and observing. So thinking about hybrid working and the practicalities of that and how that works on a multigenerational basis, because what I’m seeing a lot of companies do is have a flexible working policy that is A, inherently inflexible and B, is enforced on the juniors, but not on the seniors. And ultimately, that is an age issue as well. The third thing is internal communication because you’ve got a generation coming through that have no deference to power because of the parenting they’ve experienced, because of the education system they’ve experienced, and of course, the social media culture they’ve experienced. There is not the same level of deference to hierarchy that was evident even five years ago, 10 years ago, certainly 30 years ago, but I think as soon as what happened with Gen Z, baby boomers were the first generation to really call out the rigid, conservative, and hierarchical structures that work in the 60s and 70s. So it’s nothing new. But it’s intensified with social media, parenting, and schooling. So, therefore, what are you doing within your company to give, not just your Gen Z employees that expect it, but all your employees a voice? And then crucially, not just a voice, but a voice that leads to change, and a voice that encourages listening, because social media has made us all really good and amplified voice. But it’s made us really bad at listening. And most internal communications do not work like that at all. And I’m seeing a lot of companies — really, really progressive companies set up like Gen Z Shadow boards, and all of that, that’s great. But how much of that is enabling change? How much of that is demonstrative and leads nowhere? How much of it is actually alienating your older workers? 

Neelie Verlinden: Hmm.

Eliza Filby: So internal communications, I think technology, broadly speaking, is really important. And in a hybrid era, you’ve seen a lot of older workers drop out of the workforce because actually, the workplace has changed so much, they actually just rather just leave. So you’ve got as technology further encroaches into our working life. And by 2025, it’s been estimated that tasks done at work will be equally divided between humans and machines. So as that automation and the increasing role of AI takes hold in the workplace, what are you doing to secure all generations on that journey? Because you’ve got a generation coming in who have better tech knowledge, variably, than the older workers that are supposed to be teaching the younger workers. They have more sophisticated systems in the palm of their hand than any work system they’re operating within the company. And a generation whose only experience of work is remote working, or their majority of experience of work is staring at that green dot like eight to 10 to 12 hours a day. And actually, what that green dot does, living life on Zoom, is it dissolves boundaries, work-life boundaries, and it disconnects from belonging. That is where we need to use technology in the workplace, to reinforce boundaries, not break them down, allow people to have a healthy relationship with work. And then in reinforce. How can technology reinforce belonging? Because the problem is, now you’ve got a hybrid situation, you’ve got people in different locations or some in the office who were in one room. And then a couple of people who were square boxes in a meeting. The democracy that we experienced during the pandemic, where we were all little squares, is no more, which is why you’ve got people who are predominantly remote saying they feel disconnected and not really involved and unable to speak in meetings. So how can technology, and I’m sure the firebrands and hotheads of Silicon Valley are mulling this over right now, is how can we transcend location but create that sense of belonging?

Neelie Verlinden: Yeah. And on that note, Eliza, sorry to interrupt, but you mentioned something before as well. So I saw, I think, an article that was from Bloomberg already a couple of months ago, and they were saying something interesting, I thought as well. They said that the younger generations, I believe they were also mentioning Gen Z, which makes sense, actually wasn’t too happy about the fact that they weren’t in the office that often because they really felt that because of that they lacked the opportunity to learn from their older peers. And they also lacked the opportunity to network in person instead of via a screen. And I thought that was an interesting one. And I think there was also something in the article, perhaps you saw it too, about a Gen Z being a bit worried about certain skills such as, yeah, their communication skills or their listening skills, and simply because of the fact that yes, they are super tech savvy, but they are also pretty self-aware. And so they do know what their less strong points are. So I’m curious, actually, to hear your thoughts about that as well for a moment before we move on?

Eliza Filby: Yeah, I mean, the thing, the thing about Gen Z is that they are digital natives. And let’s not assume all of them are beautifully tech savvy. But they know, I think, probably more than what they don’t know, if that makes sense. And they are active, proactive learners, and they are therefore wanting a learning and development experience that is incredibly based on personalization. The second thing is they are digital natives who actually, of all the generations, prize face-to-face connection. So and I saw this when I was a university lecturer, their definition of high-end service was not the technological infrastructure of their learning, or the library opening hours, or you know whether the lectures were online in beautiful quality and editing. It was could they knock on my door, and would I know their name? And what’s fascinating to me is that we need to understand that this generation has had two years of their learning, arguably, taken away from them. They are very keen to get ahead very, very quickly. And there’s a real responsibility, I think, on older employees to be those mentors, but to be aware of the kind of level of learning and experience and interaction that these actually kids now expect. And actually, that’s incredibly time-consuming and requires really good management, and woe betide anyone that is neither of those or is willing to offer either of those because you will get a lot of dead eyes behind zoom calls if you are unable to really engage with them face to face and allow that learning to take place.

Neelie Verlinden: Yeah, I think so, too. Slightly moving tack here because we are going to zoom in on the managing of a multi-generational workforce a little bit more. And then from an HR perspective, because our podcast is called All About HR. Now, I think, or I can imagine, that HR should be instrumental in making sure that a company bridges the generational gap, but also has cohesive teams that are efficient. Now, how do you see the role of HR in enabling this multi-generational workforce management?

Eliza Filby: So I think two things are our key. The first is to make it a core part of your D&I strategy and put age diversity at the forefront of resources, learning workshops, focus, and also in the minds of senior management. I think that’s really important. And I’m sensing that a turn is happening. I’m doing a lot of work on multigenerational management. And quite often, I’m employed by someone in HR that knows this stuff is really important. But I’m there to kind of validate it and help them along in that journey. And I’m definitely sensing that it’s taken on increasing prominence in the last six to nine months, especially as people were sort of bed in the hybrid model. The second thing I think is key is to really shake up that mindset that your age denotes your stage at work. Quite often, the older you are, the more senior you are, that for an HR person has to, I think, be a mindset shift, because we are moving into an era now of an aging society, which is particularly acute in Europe. People are going to have to work longer. That is the story of the next 20 to 30 years. And so if you are head of HR and want to really help shape that future and be a pioneer in that narrative, I think you have to come to terms with the fact that we are talking about employing apprentices at 50. We are talking about employing managers at 25. We are talking about a breakdown of age means seniority at work. And I also think as a kind of additional thread to that is over the last 30 years, as we have grown a knowledge economy, we have assumed as a society that we could send as many people to university as possible, and it would breed a workforce. Now ask anyone that works in a university whether they think their job is to create a generation of workers, and they would say no. And yet businesses I think, have been preoccupied in the last 20 years to 10 years in thinking in a very graduate-led way. There has been a prevailing degree bias within corporate culture. That is eroding – the idea that you have to have a degree to get a job is actually being challenged. A lot of businesses are now employing straight-from-school apprenticeships. But equally though, we’ve got to understand that a degree never sets you up for jobs anyway. And it definitely won’t set you up for what is looking like a 60-year working life. So your L&D departments are actually key, I think, to attract young talent and agile mid-life talent, because you have to keep your workers learning. There’s no way education done at 21 is going to see them through to a working life of say, up until the age of 75. And in the age of automation and AI, you have to keep your workers agile through learning. So let’s not hire on skills, let’s not hire on seniority, let’s hire instead on something that is much more important, but actually also less tangible, which is values like do the values of the individual chime with the values of the business. And that I think is the future of HR. And I would just add one thing is that we tend to assume that HR is about more and more automation. And actually one of the things that some data I was looking at not long ago is that the generation that really is put off by automation in job applications is Gen Z and as I said, that’s the generation that really prizes personalization. You’ve got to have an understanding of people and how societies are evolving. If you’re going to hire the best people, the thing that we need to understand is we are living in the age of hyper-individualism. And you’ve got it most pronounced. It started with the boomers, by the way, but it’s most pronounced in Gen Z, who have grown up, as I said, with the idea of they’ve been kind of building their brand since they were 13. So it’s no wonder that you get Gen Z going into businesses interviewing the business rather than the business interviewing them. It’s not what I can do for you, but what you can do for me. And that’s, again, something you cannot counter in a way and challenge or erode, but play with, so you’re quite right when you say those points of connection, rendezvous, and belonging, have, arguably, since the 60s eroded gradually. We’re talking about religion, the church, you’re talking about political parties, and that sense of association through political culture. You’re talking about belonging in the office to accompany your entire lives, you’re talking about even belonging to a country. And arguably that sense of collective around the nation-state. There are all sorts of ways in which hyper-individualism has evolved alongside the erosion of that sense of belonging to institutions, to communities, to things, and I think that’s inevitable. But I do also think that there is a real desire to belong. So whilst we all feel that we’re so individualized, and we have so much to achieve, and we have so much to build, and so much to be, and all these kinds of fluid identities that we all have now, but we all want to belong. Now, obviously, the internet has created that sense of subcultures in our little communities in which we belong, whether it’s a gaming community, or a football community, or a beauty community, or you know what, that is essentially how social media works through influences. But equally, work is still the place that has the potential, much more than the church, to create that sense of belonging as well. And I would say that that is, if you want to think about the office, the office should be conceived of like a church. A church is a place you go to, and you dress up in your Sunday best, you go and listen to a sermon from the leader. So you’re really indoctrinated in the whole ethos of that church. You go for private prayer, for concentrated work, and you go for Bible study. So collaboration and that sense of belonging and community comes from that church. You’ll help each other out, you will know each other circumstances, responsibilities, situations, and that sense of belonging, I think the church is a really great model for the office, but it has to be combined with the most important thing, which is social connections. We’ve all had our networks shrunk over the last few years, and if you can facilitate those things, you will create a sense of FOMO around the office that will make people endure the commute to go in. And what I think is a misdirection is an enforced policy, so then you’re like forced to go to church, no one wants to be forced to go to church. I was forced to go to church. It was awful. So you don’t want to feel forced. But secondly, you want to be able to feel like you when you go, you belong. And that’s not done by free beer on Fridays, or pool tables, or all the other Silicon Valley nonsense, which was designed to keep you in the office as long as possible, by the way, like a casino. It’s that these are my people, my values and the values of the company are aligned. And this is where I go to learn. And if I’m learning, I’m growing.

Neelie Verlinden: That was a brilliant answer as well, if I may say so, Eliza. I love the analogy with the church. So yeah, no, I think it’s a beautiful one. Very, very interesting perspective. So thank you very much for that. I would like to go back for a second to what you mentioned earlier, that there’s this need for change as well, in the sense that, yeah, we can have managers that are 25 years old. And so these managers, they can actually also find themselves managing people who are very likely a bit or even a lot older than they are. So when it comes to this situation where employees of younger generations are managing older generation employees, how do we enable this situation as HR? Can you share something about that?

Eliza Filby: So this goes back to my original point about generational intelligence and empathy, and this is why it’s really important to when you do facilitate young leadership. They need to be trained and learn how to lead and crucially manage old colleagues without them feeling patronized, redundant, sidelined, and all of that, and that there’s a respect there. And I experienced this myself. You know, I used to teach mature students as a very young lecturer, and I was 26, teaching a lot of 40-year-olds. And I found it incredibly difficult to assert authority, to be taken seriously, to not feel rampantly insecure, that I was getting everything wrong, and I had to grow into it. I didn’t receive any training because you don’t really in academia. You are just expected to learn how to teach or know how to teach to stay. But it was really difficult. And I remember thinking, I’ve just got to have, you know, that confidence in myself, to know when to say I don’t know, which women are really bad at, we feel like we have to be perfect all the time. And so having the confidence to say, I don’t know, because actually, if you say, I don’t know, quite often someone else will have the answer. So they feel emboldened by that, but also fallible leadership, and being a fallible teacher actually creates that connection that you need, then the respect that is needed. I wasn’t this kind of fearful, draconian lecturer that they were scared of. I was quite the opposite. I was relatable. I didn’t try and overpower them. I didn’t try and play up and act older than I was. And they actually responded to that really well. But it’s so difficult, arguably, harder than the situation I find myself in now, which is being much older, teaching those younger, and trying to understand them

Neelie Verlinden: I can imagine. But yeah, the interesting thing there, I guess the realization is that there are probably specific challenges at every moment we find ourselves in our life, right? There are challenges that we have when we are part of the younger generations. And then, as we grow older, it is the challenges that come with that as well. 

Eliza Filby: But I would, actually, just finish on that point is that there are a lot, I can feel it, I can see it a lot of particularly older men in companies that feel very unheard and redundant and resentful that they do not have a voice, that they have no sense of social etiquette of work anymore, that they don’t understand young people, that they feel sort of overshadowed in the whole kind of conversation around diversity and inclusion. They are quite right to because, you know, women have felt like that, and ethnic minorities have felt like that for arguably centuries. So you know, but the point is, you don’t need that in your business. It’s corrosive. So I think a special effort has to be made to really address that problem if you are a younger manager.

Neelie Verlinden: Thank you for adding that. What wouldn’t hurt is for all of us, not just managers, but basically every single person in the workplace is to try and be more mindful of how we think about people from a different gender or people from a different generation, how we interact with them, and to try and also be more mindful of our own biases, because we all have them I’m sure. I think that would already be probably a very good first step probably because I think a lot of it happens just without us actually being aware of it. 

Eliza Filby: Yeah, and also, you know, human resources as a name and label for that I don’t like talent, either…

Neelie Verlinden: People team? 

Eliza Filby: I prefer people because essentially, what you’re doing is you are dealing with people. That is your currency, that is what you are in charge of and are responsible for. But as we move deeper into AI, and control a lot of the tasks done within businesses, one of the things that HR is going to really have to step up and do is make the workplace more human and really be able to override machines or enable and train staff to override machines at the moment. We are incredibly subservient to machines and to algorithms, like we trust algorithms. I mean, there’s a bit of tech lash against things like, you know, political, Twitter and Facebook and stuff. But essentially, we trust algorithms. And actually, one of the things we’re going to have to do as workers is learning how to feed the algorithm in an ethically responsible way and to override the algorithm when we do not think it has behaved in the way that we would like it to. So I think HR is going to be at the forefront of those discussions around like, Okay, we’ve treated humans like robots the last 30 years now, as robots become more human, can we really drill down on really creating human-centric workplaces? And that goes from everything. I’m not just talking about, you know, creating no meetings Fridays and schedule sends on emails. I’m talking about the language we use. I mean, again, I have a problem with the term human resources. It’s so depersonalized. 

Neelie Verlinden: Yeah. 

Eliza Filby: Right? And it’s so depersonalized. I have a problem with dehumanized systems and language surrounding people at work, you know, I have a problem with things like financial well-being because actually, if a company wants to solve financial well-being, pay your workers more, and if a company wants to address, you know, mental well being, can we first address the mental burnout created by work? So I do have a sort of slightly challenging attitude towards some of the language used around work. But I do also think we are facing growing social inequality in society, supercharged by inheritance across generations, by the way, and social inequality within work. So the pandemic revealed, as if we didn’t know already, the divide between those that could work from home and those that could not. And those that could not, we’re actually the ones keeping the economy and the country running. And those that were sat in front of a green dot going, what do I actually do again? Why is this important? Oh, my God, and I’m, you know, seeing my kids for dinner the first time. So the conversation around the future of work, let’s be honest, is rampantly unequal because we’re not talking about, you know, blue-collar workers or frontline workers. We’re talking about knowledge workers who arguably already have a lot of the perks, a lot of the security, and a lot of the opportunities that the blue-collar cohort do not. Here endeth the political message.

Neelie Verlinden: But, yeah, thank you for that Eliza. And I agree with you. I do think that is a super important conversation to be had. And I think it’s also an urgent one. And actually, that already brings us to the end of our conversation. I cannot believe really how quickly that went. So I want to thank you very much for being here with us today and for this fascinating conversation. So thank you. 

Eliza Filby: Thank you. It’s been a real pleasure. Thank you.

Neelie Verlinden: Thank you so much for tuning in today. If you want to subscribe to Eliza’s newsletter, you can do that at Also, if you want to connect with her, you can find her on LinkedIn and it’s Dr. Eliza Filby. I hope you enjoyed this conversation as much as I did. And if you did, don’t forget to subscribe to our channel, hit that notification bell, and please share this episode with a friend, a colleague or a family member. Thank you very much for watching, and see you soon for a new episode of All About HR. Bye!

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter to stay up-to-date with the latest HR news, trends, and resources.

Are you ready for the future of HR?

Learn modern and relevant HR skills, online

Browse courses Enroll now