People of various generations tend to think differently and have contrasting experiences. A key benefit of age-related diversity in the workplace is that employees with different perspectives are better suited to things like innovation and decision-making. Younger employees can keep seniors up to date with the latest technology and see opportunities that people stuck in 20th-century models may not appreciate (Lewis & Wescott, 2017). Senior employees can draw on a much broader range of experiences. However, despite these advantages, many challenges and issues arise from a mix of age groups in the workplace.
The advantages of young people compensate for the disadvantages of mature ones, and vice versa. For example, if a young employee is developing a new creative idea, it would be good for a group of mature experts to assess it before implementation and identify possible risks. The idea that a team with both young and mature employees can be highly effective is correct. However, many researchers show that in practice such a team is rarely consolidated due to the conflict of generations. Colliding with each other in the workplace, young and elderly employees observe significant differences in values, lifestyle, demeanor, communication, and other aspects (Lewis & Wescott, 2017). If both generations lack diplomacy and tolerance towards each other, age differences are often the main reason for competitive confrontations and conflicts between them.
As a service provider, when dealing with an older customer, a professional should be patient and tolerant instead of being too ambitious. Tolerance is extremely important and beneficial for both parties. In this case, young specialists should not emphasize their youth as a priority. On the contrary, it makes sense to seek partnerships with older customers because they can convey valuable life and professional experience. In a conversation with such a client, service providers have to behave correctly, show calmness, self-confidence, and control their emotions (Ali & French, 2019). Developed self-regulation is useful in many life and professional situations. It is important to understand that each client is a unique personality with different preferences, goals, skills, weaknesses, and ways of communication. Instead of generalizing and treating everyone the same, it is worth taking an individual approach to each customer or employee.
Employees of different ages do not have unanimity on many issues, for example, whether the physical presence in the office is necessary or how to resolve controversial issues. Many problems arise in the relationship between a young boss and an older subordinate (Ali & French, 2019). Older people are not inclined to be imbued with respect for a person just for the position. In their opinion, young people need to prove their professional suitability in practice. A young boss can feel it and subconsciously dislikes an old and rebellious employee. Therefore, a mature specialist has to learn to obey a young leader, respecting his or her job status. The discipline of subordination must be present in every organization and must be accepted as an objective fact (Ali & French, 2019). At the same time, a young boss must take the time to listen to a senior employee and figure out what he or she wants. This will help them work together more effectively and improve employee engagement.
It is also important to use age diversity for various projects. By creating project teams of different ages, the employer can leverage the unique strengths of each generation and encourage team members to collaborate. Different generations can offer unique perspectives and bring valuable benefits. Since each generation has a different approach to problem-solving, having multi-generational employees can be helpful when it comes to identifying opportunities for innovation and new ways to solve everyday problems (Ali & French, 2019). Generational diversity in the workplace also offers training opportunities for all employees. Colleagues can teach each other new approaches and better ways of doing business. For example, a more technologically advanced Gen Z worker might suggest a Gen X employee can handle a tedious job faster (Lewis & Wescott, 2017). Besides, a multi-generational workforce is an ideal environment for mentoring. Many organizations run in-house training programs to allow employees to train each other. This not only helps to acquire new skills and information but also improves teamwork.
Facing the above scenarios is likely in the future since there are five generations of working people today. Each of them plays an active role in the market. Depending on the specific workplace, the workforce includes four to five generations: Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X, Baby Boomers, and Traditionalists. The team of people of different generations gives the best labor productivity but is fraught with conflicts. If a particular company wants to benefit from age diversity, it needs to be able to attract people from different generations. Age-related assumptions or stereotypes must be avoided to take full advantage of the benefits of a multi-generational workforce. Instead, learning about the individual preferences and work styles of each employee will be helpful. If the company understands the characteristics of each generation, it can not only create a comfortable workplace for everyone but also benefit from it. Even three or four generations can lead a company to outstanding results when they work together effectively.
Ali, M., & French, E. (2019). Age diversity management and organisational outcomes: The role of diversity perspectives. Human Resource Management Journal, 29(2), 287-307.
Lewis, L. F., & Wescott, H. D. (2017). Multi-generational workforce: Four generations united in lean. Journal of Business Studies Quarterly, 8(3), 1-14.