Germany: Misperceptions could hinder cooperation between younger and older workers

The attitudes to work of people in different age groups are very similar, but they do not appear to realise it. That’s the finding of a new survey (in German) on the expectations of younger and older employees concerning their workplace by WIdO, the research institute of the Public Health Insurance Fund (AOK).

The AOK report shows that, in many respects, younger and older employees have similar ideas on work and life but do not know it. Both groups like to have a secure workplace, a job they enjoy doing and to be able to balance work and family life.

Interestingly, older employees overestimate the importance of career opportunities, flexible working time arrangements and high pay for their younger colleagues.

Younger employees, on the other hand, have misconceptions regarding older employees’ desire for a secure workplace, enjoyable work and career prospects, and being able to work independently.

Due to demographic change, companies need to retain the skills and knowledge of older employees longer. The researchers suggest that such mistaken perceptions might negatively influence the ability of older and younger people to work together.

Having mixed teams with employees of different ages is, however, of great importance for companies. Introducing such teams and implementing a gender-sensitive management style is important for tackling demographic change.

For the survey two groups were interviewed by telephone: the so-called generation Y (15–30 years-old) and ‘baby boomers’ aged 50–65 years of age. A total of 2,011 people took part in the survey in January and February 2014.

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