Does the old adage, “respect your elders,” take on a new meaning when your elders become your direct reports? According to new survey results, a different “old adage” comes to mind: age is just a number.
According to survey results released by OfficeTeam, a Robert Half company, age is just a number. More than 8 in 10 professionals (82%) polled said they would be comfortable reporting to a manager who’s younger than they are, and in turn 91% wouldn’t mind supervising employees older than themselves.
But working across generations isn’t always effortless. Respondents identified dissimilar work ethics or values (26%) and leadership or learning styles (22%) as the biggest challenges with having a younger boss. Using technology in different ways (25%) was named the top struggle when managing someone who’s older.
“In today’s multigenerational workplace, it’s not uncommon for employees to report to a younger supervisor. Leaders are chosen based on their performance and management ability, not on the year they were born,” said Brandi Britton, a district president for OfficeTeam—in a press release. “While our research shows many professionals are embracing collaboration across age groups, preconceptions can hinder progress. Efforts need to be made to get past stereotypes and build connections.”
Additional findings include:
- Baby Boomers are more open-minded. Workers aged 55 and older are the most comfortable having a younger boss (93%) and managing someone older (95%). They were also most likely to state there are no challenges in reporting to a younger supervisor (28%) and managing someone older (37%).
- Millennials are ready to manage up. Nearly 9 in 10 professionals aged 18 to 34 (89%) don’t have an issue with overseeing individuals older than they are.
- Tech is a target for younger workers. Those aged 18 to 34 (26%) and 35 to 54 (27%) were more likely to cite technology as a concern in overseeing an older employee.
Britton added, “Organizations benefit when people of various backgrounds bring unique perspectives to the table. Workers can share their knowledge or pick up new skills through mentoring or reverse mentoring.”