John presents studies and findings that contradict stereotypes of aging workers, and compares generational traits of older generation X and boomer workers with younger millennial workers. Develop awareness for where and how older workers can benefit your team, as well as how each generation can provide unique value.
- So here's the question: Why do age differences even matter in the first place? And what are the benefits of a team that's diverse in age? Well, working with people of all ages brings together people with complementary perspectives, attitudes, skills, and experiences. In today's workforce, we're often working side-by-side with at least four generations. Gen Z, born since 1996, Millennials, born 1982 to 1995, Gen X, born 1965 to 1981, Baby Boomers, born 1946 to 1964 and maybe even with Traditionalists, born before 1945.
And here's the key: a more diverse workforce, including age diversity, helps us all understand the diverse world we're in business to serve. So your ability to effectively supervise someone older is going to make you a stronger, more well-rounded manager. There are a number of misconceptions about older workers and about what happens to us as we age, let's talk about a few of these now. Misconception #1: Older people are not tech-savvy. The truth is, we've all been using computers since the mid-1980s and the internet bubble of the late '90s brought everyone online.
So if you're on-boarding a new team member who happens to be older, they may need some help learning the particular workflow or software that you use in your company, but a younger person would need the same support, it's not a question of age. Misconception #2: Older people are slower and less productive. Study after study has shown that older people are just as sharp and productive as younger people. While it's true that the brain does slow down with age, A) this applies to people who are a lot older than the people you're probably working with, and B) older workers are actually able to retrieve information much faster because their experience is embedded, hardwired if you will, into their neural pathways.
Your older colleague may be the first person in a meeting to come up with the answer to a particular problem. How did they figure it out? They're just instantly retrieving it from that accessible memory bank. Misconception #3: Older people are set in their ways and don't want to learn. Not at all. In fact, as we get older we all developed a new appreciation for what gives our lives meaning and purpose. So we look for it more and more, including and especially in our work. For many of us, that means curiosity about all sorts of new things and appreciating the value of what we're learning, whether it's a new skill, tackling a challenging project, or some new way of helping the team.
Older and younger workers actually have a lot in common. We both seek to balance work and life, we both want the flexibility of working on our own schedule, money and position are often secondary to the value and purpose of what we're doing. I find it fascinating that we can be separated by decades in time but still share these common outlooks and principles. So let's all look beyond our respective ages and focus instead on how our unique experiences and talents can combine to work successfully together.