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Workers Like Age Diversity but Cite Communications Challenges


Generations be damned, most employees prefer a workplace that is diverse in age.

A survey by Randstad found that 90% of workers prefer to have colleagues of different ages and said the variety is mutually beneficial. The Randstad Workmonitor Q2 2018 report also revealed that 84% of employees said the age of their direct manager is not important as long as that person is inspirational. But when asked about preference, 76% said they prefer their direct managers be the same age or older.

Younger workers prefer having a more tenured manager, as 92% of workers aged 25 to 34 said they’d rather have an older boss.

Despite most respondents wanting age diversity in the workplace, inter-generational communications can be an obstacle. 81% of workers agreed that communication style is the primary difference between generations in the workplace. More than a one-third of workers (38%) admit they find it difficult to communicate with co-workers who are not in their own age group. Men are nearly twice as likely as women to report difficulty communicating with co-workers outside their generation (49% of men versus 27% of women).

“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.”

A majority of workers think their managers are generally effective in managing and working alongside employees from different generations, but there may be room for improvement. 83% of workers said their direct managers are talented at working together with various generations. 58% said their direct managers treat colleagues from various generations differently.

54% of employees connect with their colleagues on social media, while only 33% connect with their direct managers. The numbers increase with younger generations: 75% of workers aged 18 to 24 report being connected with colleagues on social media compared to 33% of workers aged 55 to 67.

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