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How to close the generation gap in the workplace

Those battling closing the generation gap in the workplace should look to other institutions to learn how to work well together.

multi-generational living age

generation gap

The generation gap in the workplace needs work

With today’s younger generation being so career driven and with the “twenty year” career with a pension becoming a thing of the past, workplaces are now more than ever host to the generation gap. New recruits want a fast paced route to the top, but baby boomers are not transitioning into retirement soon enough to clear a path for them. This can cause animosity.

To better understand and to nurture a respect for the older working generation, take a few cues from counterparts outside the business world:

  1. Parents. When we have our own children, we don’t discount our parents as incapable of parenting. No. In fact, we give them the dignified title of “grandparents” signifying our recognition that they have met these struggles, battled them, and survived. Think of your older co-workers who are company veterans as you would your own parents. They have guidance to give, they have perseverance, and they have experience. Maybe they aren’t totally up to date on the newest ideas, but they have been a foundation on which those new ideas were built. Harboring a respect for these vets can prove to be symbiotic. You’ll learn from each other.
  2. The entertainment industry. How often do we watch up and coming entertainers crash and burn? They get their hands into too many projects, their egos get the better of them, and they try to rehabilitate but end up lurking on reality shows for a slight bit of recognition. Meanwhile, the older entertainers, the ones we call legends, offer advice and boosts to no avail. Why, we wonder, don’t the newbies take a cue from their mentors? The same is true for business. There is a reason your older co-workers are still in the business. Take their advice. They aren’t the new rage of the company because they’ve already ridden that wave. They can help make sure that you don’t drown.
  3. The military. The chain of command is put in place in the military and it is respected even for the most menial tasks. Sometimes career military men and women are the ones giving the orders to baby soldiers or airmen. Sometimes brand new officer training camp graduates who can’t fill out their battle dress uniform outrank twenty year vets, but the chain of command is not broken. Accept your rank and respect all others. It captured Osama Bin Laden; it is surely at least applicable to your career and business goals.

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Written By

Kristyl Barron holds a BA in English Education from the University of Central Oklahoma and an MHR in Counseling/Organizational Management from the University of Oklahoma. Barron has been writing professionally since 2008, and projects include a memoir entitled Give Your Brother Back His Barbie and an in progress motivational book called Aspies Among Us.

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  1. Pingback: Is email the next generation gap? A Boomer's perspective - The American Genius

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