Age diversity in the workplace would appear to be causing friction according to a survey from ADP. A pan-European study of 11,000 working adults found that two thirds (65 per cent) of UK employees are experiencing intergenerational conflict at work. For the first time in history, five generations of employees are working side by side, with consultants in their eighties serving alongside fresh talent in their teens. However, the generational conflict is primarily caused by:
- Younger and older employees having differing views on how things should be done (19 per cent)
- Older workers working for longer leaving less room for new talent (18 per cent)
- Differing approaches to organisational values and corporate responsibility (18 per cent)
Interestingly, younger workers seem to be finding it more difficult to cope with age diversity. While 16 per cent of younger employees feel that their ageing management is out of touch with modern trends, a further 15 per cent think older workers are resistant to change. However, 94 per cent of older UK workers feel that younger generations are armed with the skills to be successful in their role. Similarly, only 12 per cent of employees say that older workers perceive younger talent entering leadership positions as a threat.
Despite their differences, 39 per cent of employees are anxious about losing talent and knowledge as older workers retire. Nevertheless, only one in 10 businesses plan to employ retired employees as consultants. Fueled by the aging population across Europe, differences in generational values, working styles and skills are becoming more evident.
The issues are particularly prominent in Italy (77 per cent), Spain (73 per cent) and Poland (73 per cent), compared to 67 per cent of employees across Europe.
“Diversity is one of the greatest assets to a business,” comments Annabel Jones, HR director at ADP UK. “While millennials bring new ways of working and a fresh set of skills to the workplace, older workers have rich and invaluable experience. It is concerning to see how much conflict the age gap can cause in UK businesses. Organisations must consider how they can mitigate these issues to enable them to engage with, and harness the full potential of each age group.”
Leon Vergnes, senior vice president EMEA at ADP, said: “ADP research shows generational conflict is widespread across Europe. Employees need to be aware of, and respond to, potential differences when working with their colleagues and clients. This is particularly important for multinational businesses, as they need to be mindful of age diversity in addition to issues such as cultural differences or language barriers. Organisations must help their employees address concerns in order to benefit from the value that diversity brings to the workplace.”