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Generation gap may not mean much to employees, survey shows

Workers don’t mind reporting to younger manager, supervising someone older

Posted October 6, 2017

Age is just a number in the workplace, suggests a new OfficeTeam survey. Eighty-two percent of professionals polled said they would be comfortable reporting to a manager who's younger than they are; 91 percent wouldn't mind supervising employees older than themselves.

However, the survey showed that working across generations isn't always effortless. Respondents identified dissimilar work ethics or values (26 percent) and leadership or learning styles (22 percent) as the biggest challenges with having a younger boss. Using technology in different ways (25 percent) was named the top struggle when managing someone who's older.

Additional findings:

  • Baby boomers are more open-minded. Workers ages 55 and older are the most comfortable having a younger boss (93 percent) and managing someone older (95 percent). They were also most likely to state there are no challenges in reporting to a younger supervisor (28 percent) and managing someone older (37 percent).
  • Millennials are ready to manage up. Nearly nine in 10 professionals ages 18 to 34 (89 percent) don't have an issue with overseeing individuals older than they are.
  • Tech is a target for younger workers. Those ages 18 to 34 (26 percent) and 35 to 54 (27 percent) were more likely to cite technology as a concern in overseeing an older employee.

While employees report being comfortable with other generations in most aspects, employers should still be mindful of generational differences such as technology use. It is important to educate employees on the different preferences and learning styles of each generation to avoid communication issues among the groups.

About the research

The survey of workers was developed by OfficeTeam. It was conducted by independent research firms and include responses from more than 1,000 U.S. workers 18 years of age or older and employed in office environments.

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