- June 18, 2021
- By Joshua Reid
- Advice , Company Structure , Generation Z
- baby boomer , boomer , boomers , gen x , gen z , generation , generation gap , generation x , generation z
How Does a Company Bridge the Employee Age Gap?
As older employees continue to work past the traditional age of retirement and young employees continue to enter the workforce, the age gap between the generations grows more and more significant. How does a company, with multiple generations, each with different levels of experience, handle it?
One way a company could bridge the employee age gap would be to, whether quarterly or annually, host a sort of meeting where all employees are encouraged to come and participate. This would allow both older and younger employees to not only gain valuable information about the other employees but also allow the older employees the chance to mentor and guide the younger ones. Additionally, this could have an added benefit of letting the older employees see where the younger employees’ strengths lie and help with cultivating them.
An article for Deputy titled “The Generation Gap – How to Bridge the Gap in the Workplace” suggests that one of the biggest challenges with the generation gap is a lack of leadership as older employees (Baby Boomers or even Gen X) leave the workplace, and not enough people from Generation X or the millennial generation are equipped to fill the void. Also, the lack of leadership could be because Generations Y and Z still need to develop skills and gain experience.
If lack of leadership is one area that is causing a business to crumble, then a company needs to find ways to not only address the lack of leadership, but during the interim period where older employees are leaving and there’s no one to fill the void, find ways to continue bringing the generations together.
Another area where companies could bridge the employee age gap would be through finding out what the employees value. What do older employees value in terms of work ethic versus those of younger generations, and how could that be discussed amongst the members of the company? What do young employees value and how does that affect their approach to work? How can a company adapt to these differing values in a way that creates satisfaction for employees of all ages? These questions and more need to be asked when it comes to adopting measures to bring the old and young together.
In the article by Deputy, the contributor mentions several ways that a company could bridge the employee age gap:
- Avoid stereotyping
- Open communication and transparency
- Adjust communication methods
- Mentoring is key
- Improve the training
- Creating a company of mutual respect
In terms of avoiding stereotypes, the article notes how the reaction to stereotyping those of other generations is unfair. For example, the article makes mention of the Baby Boomers being stereotyped as technologically inept and stubborn in their views and young people not respecting the older generation. These types of stereotypes do more harm to a business because it divides the business work environment rather than bringing the generations together. There are Boomers who are technologically savvy and there are young people who respect the older generations. Instead of using the stereotypes, a company should try to avoid perpetuating them as much as they can.
CEOs and managers can aid in helping the different generations communicate by learning each generation’s communication style and helping translate, so that older and younger employees can understand one another. Adjusting communication methods to make space for these differences while also providing an avenue of understanding will help bridge the age gap now and in the future.
A 2016 article on LinkedIn titled “Age Diversity: Challenges & Solutions to bridge the Inter-Generational gap” notes that there are advantages to bridging the employee age gap, particularly by creating teams or groups where older and younger employees can collaborate. Older employees can maximize young employees’ technological knowledge while younger employees can glean important and possibly career-changing experience from the older generation.
“Understanding the key themes for each age group, which we discussed in previous posts, can build a base for understanding and can reduce stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination” (Sahar Andrade).
Through understanding the complexities of the age gap between older and younger generations, companies can hopefully gain a better understanding of what they could do about bridging such a gap in their company. Additionally, through avoiding stereotypes, businesses can begin to help the generations collaborate and draw knowledge and experience from each other.
“The Generation Gap – How to Bridge the Gap in the Workplace.” Deputy, 6 Aug 2018, https://www.deputy.com/blog/the-generation-gap-how-to-bridge-the-gap-in-the-workplace.
Andrade, Sahar. “Age Diversity: Challenges & Solutions to bridge the Inter-Generational gap,” LinkedIn, https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/age-diversity-challenges-solutions-bridge-gap-sahar-andrade-mbbch. Accessed 20 Apr 2021.