The workplace generational gap appears to be shrinking – at least among some of the youngest and oldest workers.
A new survey by Randstad, a global provider of human resource services, notes the unusual connections that workers ages 19 to 31 have with workers who are 67 or older. The May-to-December links show that the two groups of employees are more aligned with each other than those nearer their ages.
The younger workers – known as millennials – and the older workers seem to be more satisfied in their current jobs than workers in between, Randstad says. Eighty-nine percent of mature workers and 75 percent of millennials say they enjoy going to work each day, while 95 percent of older workers and 80 percent of young workers say they feel inspired to do their best work.
Sixty-nine percent of millennials and 64 percent of older workers perceive higher morale on the job. The average for all generations was 53 percent.
“As the average age of retirement continues to increase, employers are not only seeing a wider generational gap among their employees, but they are also seeing more generations sitting side-by-side in the workplace than ever before,” says Jim Link, managing director for Randstad US.
He says it is critical for companies to note the distinct motivations and attitudes of different generations in the workplace.
In spite of their age difference, the two groups both agreed on the top three skills that will help them make strides forward in their careers: flexibility/adaptability, computer proficiency and leadership.
And each of these generations agreed that the job market will pick up in the year ahead.
The unusual alignment of the millennials and the older workers shows us that perhaps we are hasty to think that each generation will have different motivations and goals.
But there were definitely some differences between the generations. Among the millennials 59 percent indicated that their career plans have been altered by a stumbling economy and 57 percent showed an interest in finding another job over the next year. Only 35 percent of the older workers believe the economy has upset their plans and just 20 percent indicated they would look for another job.
That’s to be expected when one generation has most of their career ahead of them while the older workers have just about finished their work lives.
If employers are smart, they will pay close attention to these findings because they reveal opportunities for them to prosper in the years ahead. The survey finds a group of workers 19 to 31 who seem to be enjoying their current work lives.
Noting this, employers have something to build on when it comes to retaining those workers. Too often employers don’t look at the needs of their existing workforce until they get dissatisfied or leave. In this case, employers can see that their younger workers are happy.
If they can find ways to build on that, they can stem some of the impact from job turnover that can rob them of expertise and result in costly recruitment of new workers.