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The Generation Gap in the Workplace: How to Manage Staff When Your Employees Are Generations Older Than You

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Human resources expert discusses ageism in the workplace and what employers need to know about managing older workers

Ageism continues to be a growing concern in the workplace, with a new study finding that over half of workers who are 50+ years say that they have been pushed out of their positions before they were ready to retire.

Yet despite this research, older workers report that they are happy to work under younger managers and don’t mind navigating any generational differences in order to succeed at their job.

Research shows that 8 in 10 older workers say that they are comfortable reporting to a younger boss,” says Rob Wilson, President of Employco USA and employment trends expert. “However, the fact remains that there could be some challenges presented by these age gaps…for instance, by a baby boomer being managed by a millennial.”

Wilson says that study respondents identify several key issues that are presented by a multigenerational workforce, including dissimilar work ethics or values (26 percent), leadership or learning styles (22 percent) and using technology in different ways(25 percent).

“Creating an age-positive workforce should be the goal of every employer,” says Wilson. “There are many ways that companies can do this, including by offering flextime, providing ample health/wellness support, and offering caregiver/caregiving support for workers who might be caring for elderly relatives. It is also important to make sure that your older employees are educated when it comes to things like Medicare and retirement, so having seminars about these topics or offering resource materials to employees on these topics is crucial.” 

Wilson also says that companies should offer targeted training programs for older workers, along with helping to foster mentorships between older and younger workers.

“Older employees have a great deal of expertise and experience they can share with younger generations,” says Wilson. “In turn, younger workers can help to explain the technology and share new ideas. A mentorship between these two generations can be mutually beneficial, and most importantly, it can also help to make your workplace age-positive and ensure that all employees feel valued and supported.”

 

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