Age differences

Young workers want to make a quick impact, the middle generation needs to believe in the mission, and older employees don't like ambivalence, says research among US workers.

by HBS Working Knowledge
Last Updated: 23 Jul 2013

To get the most out of young workers before they move on, companies should look to give them early responsibility.

Relationships with line managers are more significant than with their employer, so retention should be a key responsibility of those managers. And since young workers will leave - to travel or other jobs - employers should also make it easy for the good to return.

Much of the middle generation is disengaged from their work, but where employers can make work fulfilling, this group will be highly productive. They need to be rejuvenated through fresh projects and mentoring - and pay and benefit policies shouldn't add to their demotivation if their careers stall. Workers over 55 tend to be loyal and value financial security. They also tend to have better social skills and are often well suited for roles involving customer contact.

Can you manage different generations?
HBS Working Knowledge, 17 April 2006.

Reviewed by Steve Lodge.

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