Ending Generational Assumptions
Four generations work side by side—The Silent Generation, Boomers, Gen X, Millennials—and make assumptions about each other. Some of the more common ones are:
- Young employees are more excited about work, learning new skills and staying fit.
- Older people work at a slower pace, are more exhausted and less likely to explore.
Professors Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott of the London Business School would tell you those assumptions are wrong. Gratton and Scott interviewed 10,000 people and based their book The 100 Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity on the following 6 key takeaways:
1. It’s not just the young who invest in new skills. The study showed there is no difference between those in their 30s, 40s or even 60s – The majority of people keep maintaining skills and this does not significantly decline with age.
2. It is not just the young who are positive and excited by their work. According to the study, those feeling positive about their work was a constant at just over 50% regardless of age. Just as striking is the proportion of people of all ages who don’t feel positive about their work.
3. Older people are working harder to keep fit. About half of those under 45 actively try to keep fit, rising continuously across the ages with a peak of 71% for those over 70.
4. Older people are not more exhausted. More people under the age of 45 (43%) said they were exhausted than those over 45 (35%) – the least exhausted are those over 60.
5. Older people don’t want to slow down. More than half of those aged 46 to 60 want to slow down, whilst only 39% of the people over 60 and less than 20% of the people over 70 say they want to slow down.
6. Exploring is not just for the young. The study found no significant age difference in people’s excitement about exploring their options.
The major takeaway? If you want to hit the bullseye as a leader, get rid of those tired, old assumptions about workers regardless of age.