Managing Age Differences in the Workplace – 1

Diversity is a key feature of today’s workforce and requires ongoing awareness and alignment on the part of managers and leaders. An important aspect of diversity management involves generational differences. Helping different age groups to perform well together and addressing employee engagement among these groups can be a challenge but you certainly don’t want to miss out on the different perspectives and gains that these different age groups can bring to the table. How aware are you, of these differences in work ethics and perspectives among your employees? Do you know how your own generational worldview may be affecting your leadership/management abilities? Have you thought about how much synergy could occur among your employees if they, too, understood and appreciated these differences?

Managing Age Differences in the Workplace

Different generations of workers have very different expectations and values in terms of autonomy, company commitment, work ethics and work-life balance. Life experience helps shape these values.

Workers born before 1946 value long-term employment and job security. Their life experiences have often created great respect for authority and economic certainty among them, along with company loyalty and strong self-discipline.

Baby Boomers, those born between 1946 and 1960, have usually experienced more opportunities than those that came before them and are also less traditional. They are driven to succeed, progress in their own careers and are often workaholics.

Employees born between 1961 and 1979 belong to Generation X. With even more educational and international opportunities, this generation is entrepreneurial and individualistic. They tend to gravitate towards positions that allow them flexibility and self-expression, and are less respectful of authority, work traditions or corporate loyalty.

Generation Y, “Nexters” or “Millenials,” born since 1980 in the midst of instant communication and information, are perhaps the least bound by company loyalty. These workers are motivated by work that challenges them intrinsically and provides external rewards. They are as mobile and fluid as the age in which they’ve been born.

It’s important for leaders to recognize that each generation brings unique and valuable contributions to the table in terms of creativity, innovation and perspectives. But be aware that every individual doesn’t fit a generation generalization. What may be most important for managers to realize is that their own generation and values can affect how they view and manage others.

Emotional and cultural intelligence is required to effectively stylize your techniques to best recognize what each employee brings to the table and how best to motivate them. It’s value differences, not simply age differences, that affect the workplace. As a Coach, I can work with leaders and employees to assess generational differences and conflicts, increase emotional intelligence and awareness, and help you to create a highly collaborative and productive workforce. Cont…

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  1. Managing Age Differences in the Workplace – 2 | Wealth Dynamics Unlimited - 15 May, 2015

    […] Cont… On the website “The Grindstone,” contributor Meredith Lepore offers more insight into generational differences in the workplace. Lepore points out that Baby Boomers believe in putting in long hours and are competitive; Generation Xers value autonomy and independence; Millennials or Generation Y employees are keyed into collaborative work and communication. Lepore spoke to organizational expert Jessie Newburn who added that Boomers respond to authentic mission statements and the big picture; GenXers are result-oriented in terms of the present; and Millennials value innovative and new solutions. Do you know how to create engagement in all of your workers? […]

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