More than half (52.3%) of UK office workers believe generation X (roughly those aged between 34 and 54) are the hardest workers, according to project management software vendor Workfront.
The survey asked 2,051 office workers and 501 marketers aged 18 years and older their views of different age groups in the office. The respondents also selected those from generation X as having the strongest work ethic (chosen by 59.5%), being the most helpful (55.4%), the most skilled (54.5%), and the best troubleshooters (41.6%).
Millennials – those born between 1980 and 2000 – were said to be the biggest complainers, with 40.9% citing this. They were chosen as the least co-operative (43.3%), but also the most ‘tech-savvy’ (66.3%) and creative (46%). More than a third (34.1%) of respondents claimed that millennials present the ‘biggest roadblocks’ in business.
Joe Staples, chief marketing officer at Workfront, said that each generation can bring something different to the table. “By understanding the differences between generations enterprise teams should look to invest in tools and processes that bridge the gaps while taking advantage of individual strengths at the same time,” he said.
However, Katrina Pritchard, senior lecturer in organisation studies at The Open University Business School, warned of the danger of conflating generation with age groups. “Are millennials now behaving differently to the way generation X did when they were the same age?” she asked.
Pritchard was also concerned that a study of this type might reveal more about which stereotypes persist in the office rather than the reality of the situation. “You risk people thinking that all 55- to 65-year-olds behave like that, so therefore they think they know what the next person they meet in that age group would be like,” she told HR magazine. “I like to suggest taking the questions and changing them to be about gender rather than age. Would the researchers still be comfortable sending it out?"
Of those surveyed by Workfront, 155 were aged under 24, 716 were aged between 25 and 34, 658 were between 35 and 44, 561 were aged between 45 and 54, and 430 were over 55.