What Older & Younger Generations Should Learn from Each Other

March 4, 20202:58 pm994 views
What Older & Younger Generations Should Learn from Each Other
What Older & Younger Generations Should Learn from Each Other

Workplaces are more diverse than ever before with at least 3 to 4 generations working together, sharing the same workspace. CMO survey revealed that companies today are made up of mixed generations who bring their own unique styles, needs, goals, and traits for employers to consider. And by 2025, 99.3 percent of the workforce will comprise older and younger generations, including Baby Boomers, Generation X, Millennials, and Generations Z. 

Generation gap 

Workplace diversity brings in diverse skills and experiences which can drive business success, but managing its harmony might not be a piece of cake. In fact, age discrimination is common among older generations. AARP research revealed that nearly 2 out of 3 workers ages 45 and older have seen or experienced age discrimination on the job. Among the 61 percent of respondents who reported age bias, 91 percent said they believe that such discrimination is common. 

Moreover, the age diversity might prompt another generation gap issue such as communication preferences. Purdue University survey revealed that older generations prefer direct communication either in-person or call, while younger generations are more comfortable with texting and socialising through online social media. 

See also: A Simple Way to Appreciate Multigenerational Workforce

More of the generation gap, as surveyed by Dr K R Subramanian, is that many older people have deep roots in their communities but few connections, while many young individuals have hundreds of connections but no root in communities. Social divisions between young and old mirror financial ones. Likewise, all too often, older generations view Millennials as being entitled and lazy, due to the entirely different way of life that Millennials follow. 

Bridging the gap: how HR should help 

Leaders can help eliminate the misunderstanding and generation gap posed by different age groups within the workforce by instilling the value of acceptance and understanding in both younger and older generations. HR should also be able to bridge the communication between a diverse workforce and acknowledging the diverse employees that they can eliminate age discrimination and generation gap by learning from one another. 

Dan Schawbel in his book Back to Human wrote that while the diversity cannot be avoided, with the right culture and leadership style, older and younger generation can learn valuable materials from each other, such follows: 

Older generations could teach younger workers in terms of: 
  • Struggles and setbacks of building life and career as older generations have years of experiences
  • Soft skills that have helped older generations build a successful relationship during their tenure 
  • Loyalty in learning and development 
  • Regrets that the older generation might have in their life for teaching the younger to not repeat the same mistake 
  • Conflict management skills and wisdom to actually solve problems and form a stronger relationship
Meanwhile, younger generations could teach older workers in the following aspects: 
  • Technology and automation that will impact internal collaboration
  • Diversity, given that younger employees are the most diverse in history
  • Change as the older generation should open up that skills of today might not be as valuable in the future and how to learn new skills 
  • The art of not giving up since research shows that younger workers are more optimistic and can use that to inspire older workers 
  • Collaboration and a growth mindset 

Judy Hoberman, a leadership expert and president of Selling In A Skirt, suggested that we can learn so much from other generations when it comes to our businesses if we give each other opportunities to learn and share. Besides, Hoberman added, the most important thing in the world of business is to raise the next generation, while anything else might not be as deeply satisfying. 

Read also: On Diversity and Inclusion: Why the Misfit May be the Best Fit