Why intergenerational workplace conflict is a myth

Written by Caroline Roberts Tuesday 06 September 2022
You might think difficulties arise from older workers struggling with technology and younger workers demanding rapid progression. But the picture is more complicated than it might seem
An old and young colleague standing next to each other

If the negative stereotypes are to be believed, baby boomers can’t cope with change and new technology; millennials are entitled; and members of Generation Z are glued to their screens and need help with social interaction. 

To what extent have these stereotypes seeped into workplace culture and influenced how we behave to one another? Plus, as multiple generations come together in organisations, what really are the challenges of managing intergenerational teams?

Emma Parry, professor of human resource management and head of the Changing World of Work group at Cranfield University, is a keen observer of these issues. She believes that the way the generations are categorised is flawed and unhelpful. 

“They’ve gained traction as we like heuristics or shortcuts that allow us to generalise about groups, and of course they have some validity because we all know there are some differences in attitudes and preferences between older and younger people. However, the evidence base is very weak.” 

Want to discover how to get different generations working together?


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