A majority of respondents to a poll by Randstad US said that they prefer having colleagues of different ages and believe this variety is mutually beneficial.
However, the report also found communication is often where the alignment between generations breaks down.
Age is Just a Number
Although most workers prefer an older manager, an inspirational manager trumps age:
- Although 84% of workers say the age of their direct managers is not important as long as they are inspirational, 76% surveyed prefer their direct managers be the same age or older.
- Younger workers apparently see the value that a more tenured manager can bring, as 92% of workers aged 25 to 34 agree they'd rather have an older boss.
The Intergenerational Communications Barrier
Communication is where generational differences are most keenly felt:
- Eighty-one percent of workers agree the primary difference between generations in the workplace is communication styles.
- More than a third of workers (38%) admit they find it difficult to communicate with coworkers who are not in their own age group.
- Men are nearly twice as likely as women to report difficulty communicating with coworkers outside of their generation (49% of men, versus 27% of women).
Tailoring Feedback is a Must
The majority of workers feel their managers are generally effective in managing and working alongside employees from different generations, but there may be room for improvement:
- Eighty-three percent of workers say their direct managers are talented at working together with various generations.
- Fifty-eight percent say their direct managers treat colleagues from various generations differently. Whether this is perceived as a positive thing or not varies from person to person, but it is clear that managers should tailor their communication styles to individual team members.
More Workers Prefer to Connect with Colleagues than their Bosses on Social Media
Younger workers are particularly engaged with colleagues on social channels:
- Fifty-four percent of employees connect with their colleagues on social media, while only 33% connect with their direct managers.
- Perhaps not surprisingly, the numbers increase with younger generations: 75% of workers aged 18 to 24 report being connected with colleagues on social media compared to just 33% of workers aged 55 to 67.
"Part of the challenge of managing effectively is knowing how to relay your message, which requires understanding the individual communication styles of the people on your team and how they approach their work," said Jim Link, chief human resources officer for Randstad North America.
"There are more generations in the workforce than ever before, which has resulted in a greater variety of expectations around workplace communication. People in different stages of their lives and careers are also motivated in different ways, and managers must work to tailor feedback to help individuals maximize their potential."