Younger employees, who are just entering the workforce, can often face stereotypes about their age group. Those who are wary of hiring or working with millennials fear that they will be lazy, self-centered or uncommitted.
Research shows that younger people can be just as hardworking and motivated as their older colleagues, and they are often looking for mentoring and employee development opportunities.
The age discrimination that can result from the generation gap in the workplace is not only directed toward new college graduates. Baby boomers, who have been a major part of the workforce and are now nearing retirement, also deal with misconceptions and stereotypes because of their age.
Some employers or managers may have reservations about hiring employees who has many years of work experience, fearing that they will be less productive or engaged in their work or have more health problems that will cost the organization money.
Research from Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania dispels these myths. In fact, according to management professor Peter Capelli, who directs the Warton Center for Human Resources, older employees actually outshine their younger colleagues in many ways.
“The evidence is unbelievably huge,” said Capelli. “Basically, older workers perform better on just about everything.”
The Generation Gap in Reality
- Older employees do take longer to recover from injuries, but they take fewer sick days on the whole than younger workers.
- Workers become eligible for Medicare at age 65, which can reduce health care spending for their employers.
- They have less absenteeism and less turnover.
- They have better interpersonal skills and better interactions with customers.
- Workers who stay employed past retirement age actually become more engaged, rather than less, according to a study by Boston College.
Employees who bring years of experience and knowledge to an organization are extremely valuable to a team and should not be discounted or dismissed simply because of their age. Their strengths, especially when paired with those of younger generations, can help an organization be successful and remain competitive.
Has the generation gap been a problem within your team? What are the strengths of older workers vs. younger workers?
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