How a multigenerational workforce enables innovation in the commercial print industry

Forward-thinking commercial print companies are embracing innovation. It unlocks new opportunities, improves processes, and can reduce costs. But which people do you require in your print business to spot and unlock opportunities? 

It doesn’t matter if you work in print, finance, or healthcare, one common theme runs across all successful businesses. The need for a multigenerational workforce. From ‘Baby Boomers’ to ‘Gen Z’, the workforce has a more diverse age range than ever before. With that can come complications, but also opportunities through innovation. For industries like commercial print that have been around for decades, they must learn how to harness the multigenerational workforce.

innovation commercial print

A team made up of individuals working in commercial print for 20-30 years will have a wealth of experience and knowledge at their disposal, used to working in a certain way. In comparison, a younger team may spot opportunities for innovation but lack the know-how to execute them. Our belief at Ricoh is that commercial print companies who bring together the combined power of a generationally mixed workforce will have the most robust foundation for a successful future. 

Innovation from both Baby Boomers to Gen Z

In most companies, the generations are made up of Baby Boomers (born 1946-1964), Generation X (born 1965-1980), Generation Y (born after 1980), also known as Millennials, and Generation Z (born after 1990).

The younger generation has grown up believing there are no limits and they could have pretty much whatever they desired. In comparison the older generation grew up through scarcity, and people were more appreciative of what they had. 

Yet it is the Millennials who are changing the face of business, and in many cases for the better. A 2015 study by Deloitte found that millennials will make up more than 50% of the workforce by 2025. They are the most educated, ambitious, and technologically savvy generation to date. The secret to success is when multiple generations work together and through combined innovation they are able to solve challenges.  

Uniting generational expertise in innovation

study of 300 global companies by Forbes Insights showed that a generationally diverse workforce helps drive innovation. Anecdotally, commercial print managers tend to be slightly older with a traditional printing background that includes detailed knowledge of machine capabilities, applications and colour. Those who are younger have grown up in a world where technology is seen as the answer to most challenges. Therefore, they are typically more digitally native. Bringing the experts in commercial print and digital natives together provides a fresh perspective, helping to identify and deliver new commercial print innovation and solutions to the market. 

Multigenerational skillsets working together is where the future of commercial print is heading. A cross-generational team, which promotes the seamless blending of traditional print mediums with modern processes and best practices for true innovation. 

Embracing innovation in commercial print

It is clear is how much opportunity still exists for innovation in commercial print. You only have to look at the rapid rise of 3D printing, which uses the same heads as inkjets only with a different medium. Chuck Hull, one of the inventors of 3D printing systems, took print technology and reimagined it to create a whole new sector.

In reality, creativity varies from individual to individual but there are plenty of things within the business that can be done. These include fostering innovation and creativity by providing diverse training opportunities. There is a higher chance of creating a range of ideas by offering different training options. Having a clear leadership strategy that reaches team members from different age groups will positively influence creativity and innovation. In addition, running competitions for innovation that sees teams from diverse age groups will also bring to life new ideas. 

The power of generational differences in commercial print

As creativity and idea generation revolves around solving novel problems, having employees with diverse backgrounds creates a broader pool of ideas. These in turn can open opportunities to new revenue streams, better commercial print processes and technological advances. 

Commercial print is one of the longest-serving industries globally and has seen many changes. Embracing generational differences is the next iteration of this evolution. It will enable the print industry to continue making strides in innovation and profitability.

Listen to our podcast series and discover more about the opportunities and business benefits of a multigenerational workforce.

Alternatively, feel free to contact me if you would like to learn more.

Tim Carter

Ricoh UK Sales Director Commercial Print

Read all articles by Tim Carter