Survey: Young workers harbor misconceptions about older colleagues
- Young Americans' perceptions about age appear to go against research, according to Better with Age? How Young People See Seniors and the Aging Process, a recent poll conducted by the senior living referral service A Place for Mom. Of the 2,000 16- to 34-year-olds the company surveyed, 55% said they believe older people don't understand modern technology; the survey, however, cited Pew Research Center's findings that 67% of American seniors use the internet, and another study showed that 64% of 50 to 64 year olds use social media.
- Almost three-quarters of millennials said they believe older people's driving skills are worse than their own, even though drivers aged 16 to 34 account for 38% of crash victims, compared to 19% for people aged 65 and older, the report said citing research from the Federal Highway Safety Administration. Slightly more than half of respondents said they think people like their bodies less as they age, but the report cited research from Gallup that found perception of self appearance peaks when people reach their 70s and 80s.
- Respondents said they're looking forward to their senior years so they can spend more time with loved ones, travel and take up hobbies and care less about how other people perceive them, the survey reported.
It's not uncommon for today's workplace to house five generations of employees. People are working well into their retirement years alongside workers several generations their junior who are entering the labor force. It's not uncommon for members of different generations to hold misperceptions about each other, as data from A Place for Mom emphasized. The results of these kinds of surveys can help HR navigate the challenges of a multigenerational workforce. By recognizing what employees experience at various life stages — such an entering the workplace, building skills or winding down a career in preparation for retirement — HR can help each generation work and communicate more collaboratively.
HR leaders also must be intentional about eliminating age bias from the workplace. The Age Discrimination in Employment Act protects workers who are 40 and older from being discriminated against on the basis of their age in hiring, promotions, firing, compensation or the terms, privileges or conditions of employment. Some employers even have anti-bias policies to protect young workers, as well, since discrimination can affect any age group. Company-wide anti-bias training might be necessary and help lower an organization's risk for an age-based lawsuit.