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November 17, 2021

Helping new and old employees find common ground

Ah, what to do with the younger generation coming into the workforce today?

Little to no respect for authority; not motivated by money; work to live rather than live to work; free agent careerists; disloyal ― the list goes on and on.

The worst mercenaries going, it seems.

Nonsense, says Jennifer Deal, author of Retiring the Generation Gap: How Employees Young and Old Can Find Common Ground. They just want a little respect. 

However, how people want to be respected can be very different based on their age. Established employees often complain about younger hires not respecting their opinions even though some see respect as “doing what I say.”

Younger employees, on the other hand, feel respected when they are listened to ― when their ideas are valued, says Deal.

In fact, Gen Y workers can actually teach entrenched employees a few things about making it in the modern workforce, says Penelope Trunk, who heads up the Brazen Careerist, a professional social network for younger people.

The areas where Gen Y can run circles around you? There are several, she says. For instance ...

Productivity. Young people can find information faster and sort information faster than older people. They collaborate on wiki-type tools with ease. They crowdsource. They benefit from the plasticity of the brain, which has adapted, over their Internet-based lives to process information faster.

Communication. It’s often said that Gen Y-ers can’t write and talk face-to-face, but it actually turns out that young people are better communicators than everyone else. A large study at Stanford, for instance, shows that the process of writing online, for a large audience, throughout childhood, is a terrific way to learn to write effectively.

And while most generations wrote only for school assignments, your most recent colleagues have been writing constantly ever since they could type, building communication skills that are sharper and more effective than preceding generations., she maintains.

So there.

How is the generational mix where you work? A harmonious workplace or a daily repeat of 'World's Worst Sunday Dinners'?

By Gordon Powers, MSN Money



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...