When talking about different generations in the workforce, it is generally assumed that an older worker would not feel comfortable having a younger worker as a supervisor, and, conversely, that a younger worker might feel uncomfortable supervising an older person.
But the results of a recent survey of professionals appear to contradict the conventional wisdom on the subject. More than 80 percent of those polled said they would have no problem working under a person who is younger than they are. Moreover, more than 91 percent of younger workers said they would have no reservations about having an older person working for them.
Most workers appear to see the diversity as a plus, where individuals of different ages provide varying perspectives that make the workforce stronger and more productive, and provide the opportunity for workers to learn from each other’s strengths.
However, the survey also showed that different generations have preconceptions about each other that may have to be confronted. Older workers, for example, cited different work ethics, values, leadership styles and learning styles as areas that could lead to friction with younger people. While younger workers reported a lack of confidence in the technological prowess of older workers.
So, while workers appear to be all in favor of working with people of other generations, there are still preconceptions and stereotypes that need to be confronted in order to make strong connections.
Other findings from the survey include the following:
- Those in the baby boomer generation – 55 and older — appear to be the most accepting of intergenerational collaboration. They were the group most at ease in working with someone older or younger than themselves – more than 90 percent reported they would be fine with such arrangements.
- Millennials also reported having no problem in managing workers older than themselves.
- However, younger workers were most likely to stereotype older people as lacking proficiency in the area of technology.
The survey included responses from more than 1,000 workers in offices across the United States.
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