The Changing World of Work: Age Diversity

Let’s be frank: if you’re over 45, and manage younger workers, you see how age diversity is becoming more of an issue. Over the years we’ve addressed diversity issues on gender, ethnic, and sexual differences. It’s time to become aware and accepting of how the world of work is changing due to generational diversity.

Even though it may seem that the managers who are Baby Boomers will live and work forever, there will be a changing of the guard in the next decade. You know that, but what are you doing about it in your company? How are you and your management teams facing age diversity in your organization?

I believe that those leaders who aren’t listening to the changes in how people work created by the convergence of demographics, globalization and technology are going to be in big trouble.

In just ten years, by 2021, Gen X will be the senior members of the workforce and both Gen X and New Millennials will be in leadership positions. Big changes are already beginning to appear and I think the world of work will be significantly different.

For example, older workers talk about “going to work,” and have always had a specified work schedule such as nine to five.  In the manufacturing economy, everyone needed to be under the same roof at the same time to achieve maximum productivity. But times change and so do jobs.

Younger workers view work as something you do, anywhere, any time. They communicate 24/7 and expect real-time responses. The rigidity of set work hours seems unnecessary and even unproductive in the information age.

To younger workers, success isn’t defined by how many hours one puts in at a desk. Success is defined not by rank or seniority but by what matters to each person personally. What is the true value they can provide? They don’t want to be paid for time, but want to be paid for their services and skills.

For those who have working spouses and children, work-life balance issues and flexible conditions have more priority. Is someone who arrives at 9:30 necessarily working less hard than one who arrives at 8:30? It is critical that generational attitudes don’t get in the way of progress and productivity.

If you’re  managing younger people, how willing are you to change your views of how things should be done? I’d love to hear from you.

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