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Age diversity a challenge for younger workers

Younger workers find it harder to cope with age diversity in the office

Younger workers find it more difficult to cope with age diversity than their older colleagues, according to research from HCM solutions provider ADP.

The researchers found that 16% of employees aged between 16 and 34 felt that their older management was out of touch with modern trends, and a further 15% thought that older workers were resistant to change.

However, this attitude was not shared by the older workers themselves. More than nine out of 10 (94%) of older UK workers said that younger generations were armed with the skills to be successful in their role. Similarly, only 12% of employees think that older workers perceive younger talent entering leadership positions as a threat.

Where it was found to occur, this conflict was found to be primarily caused by younger and older employees having differing views on how things should be done (19%), older workers working for longer leaving less room for new talent (18%), and differing approaches to organisational values and corporate responsibility (18%)

ADP UK HR director Annabel Jones said that diversity is one of the greatest assets to a business. “While millennials bring new ways of working and a fresh set of skills to the workplace, older workers have rich and invaluable experience,” she said. “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.”

The researchers found that generational differences in values, working styles and skills varied across Europe. Leon Vergnes, senior vice president EMEA at ADP, said generational conflict was found to be widespread across the continent. “Employees need to be aware of, and respond to, potential differences when working with their colleagues and clients,” he said.

“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.”