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Older, younger employees have more similarities than most believe

Managing workers from different generations may seem challenging, but a new study shows that there may not be much difference between young employees and more mature staff members.

Managing workers from different generations may seem challenging, but a new study shows that there may not be much difference between young employees and more mature staff members.

A study by Randstad found that millennials – those born between 1982 and 1994 – and baby boomers have similar outlooks when it comes to their jobs. Eighty-nine percent of older workers responded favorably to their current jobs, along with 75 percent of millennials. The two groups were more closely linked than any other age group and shared common outlooks on other aspects of their careers as well, including daily activity and engagement levels.

These results could help businesses implement more successful employee reward programs by highlighting similarities between the age groups. Many organizations believe that they need to make dramatic changes to their incentive programs to provide different rewards that motivate each generation. However, this may not be the case, as businesses can generate strong results across all employee demographics through clear communication, promoting values and providing regular feedback.

"As the average age of retirement continues to increase, employers are not only seeing a wider generational gap amongst their employees, but they are also seeing more generations sitting side-by-side in the workplace than ever before," said Jim Link, managing director for Randstad US. "It is critical for companies to take note of the distinct characteristics, motivations and perspectives each cohort possesses, as well as the overlaps in attitude and workplace desires."

Time Magazine notes that businesses can utilize the skills and interests of each generation with mentorship programs. These initiatives provide a way to pass on institutional knowledge, while engaging both older and younger employees. Mentorships can be implemented as part of a reward system that involves recognizing the contributions of top performers, or can be used to create teams during gamification. Challenging each mentor-protege pairing to undertake new challenges or meet specific goals could boost productivity and improve company performance.

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