Harnessing the Power of Age Diversity

Age Diversity

Some useful discussion to inform your understanding of age in the workplace:

Conflict between generations is an age-old phenomenon. But at the end of 2019, when the retort “OK, Boomer” went viral, the vitriol — from both young people who said it and older people who opposed it — was pointed and widespread.

The sarcastic phrase was coined by a younger generation to push back on an older one they saw as dismissive and condescending, and it became popular from Korea to New Zealand even though the term “Boomer” is barely used outside of the United States. The retort captured the yawning divide between the generations over seemingly every issue: political activism, climate change, social media, technology, privacy, gender identity.

With five generations together in U.S. workplaces for the first time (Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z), and similar dynamics playing out in other parts of the world, tensions are mounting. The anger and lack of trust they can cause hurt team performance by limiting collaboration, sparking emotional conflict, and leading to higher employee turnover and lower team performance. And a lack of awareness and understanding of age issues can drive discrimination in hiring and promotion, leading to lawsuit risks.

But many organizations don’t take steps to address generational issues. While companies have recently renewed their diversity efforts, only 8% of organizations include age as part of their DEI strategy. And of organizations that do address it, the strategy has often been to simply encourage those of different generations to focus on their similarities or to deny the reality of their differences altogether. Read the full article on HBR.

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