The generation gap and the changing employee |

The generation gap and the changing employee

Jane Boucher

Are you an older supervisor, a younger employee or a younger supervisor, an older employee? You may experience exasperation with differing values of your older and/or younger co-workers.

That is natural, as each generation tends to have different goals and lifestyles.

Baby Boomers, who are now in supervisory positions with many years of experience, report the highest job satisfaction of any generation group.

Having ridden the waves of economic and societal changes, they are looking forward to passing their knowledge and experience to the next generation of workers.

Many can’t understand a younger worker who is not grateful for a steady job with a strong company.

They have a hard time empathizing with someone who challenges the corporate culture over what they perceive as petty problems.

Many employers ask the same question, “Don’t they like prosperity?” Between generations, prosperity is in the eye of the beholder.

Later generations tend to be a much more cynical and ambitious group.

More recent age groups are not as willing to be patient in seeking advancement and career goals.

One can accuse this cohort of having a common thought – “We want it all and we want it now.” Younger employees need clearly defined work environments specifics about what is wanted from them and why.

Concrete rewards are important though not necessarily money.

Days off, vacations, stereos can go a long way to boosting morale.

Short-term goals with instructions on achieving them will build to a successful career in the company.

Most are hard workers and are just looking for the right motivation.

Some may not share an older employee’s sense of loyalty to the company.

Some, seeing what they perceive as a better opportunity,will leave despite good management.

This is not necessarily a reflection on management or the company, but a more practical approach to jobs in general.

Use honesty and trust to build a relationship that encourages their ambition and shared success.

The older manager should let the younger employee know that their loyalty is not demanded but by sharing work triumphs with them will hopefully earn it.

They can be building a great resume for those greener pastures, when the opportunity presents itsel,f by working hard in their current job.

The older manager should make it clear they are willing to be a partner in the younger employee’s career path and follow through by sharing any credit for successful projects with them.

Older workers often resent being told what to do and how to do it by younger bosses who may not have half as much experience as they do.

A manager who is sensitive to this natural tendency can usually overcome it by treating older workers with the respect they deserve for their experience and accomplishments.

The younger manager must avoid automatically labeling them in their mind as “outdated” and be willing to listen to their perspective.

The older employee can provide a wealth of insight gathered from a lot more living.

Showing empathy for their experience will gain their trust and give back the value of their knowledge.

Both will win, as the younger manger’s support will receive back a certain amount of mentoring from the older employee that may be missing in the company life.

This is a rare opportunity for both sides of the generation gap.

Jane Boucher is an author and professional speaker with offices in Reno and Ohio.

Reach her at 775-853-0226, 937-416- 9881 or

Her websites are and