Why are younger workers unsettled by older colleagues?

New figures also indicate majority of employers expect after-hours service

12th October, 2016
Younger workers often find it difficult to manage older colleagues. Pic: Pixabay

With life expectancy rising and pension benefits falling, there will be increasing pressure on people to stay in work longer. But are their younger colleagues ready for offices with a stronger shade of grey?

New research published today suggests not. According to recruitment group CPL’s employment market monitor for the third quarter of 2016, a massive 67 per cent of employees are uncomfortable dealing with older staff. Workers were particularly uncomfortable managing staff older than them in the workplace.

There may be a perception that older workers are less tech-savvy, though this has been challenged by organisations such as Ageing Well Network, who argue that this perception does not tally with the evidence. Recent research also indicates that the Facebook and Twitter generation - so-called 'digital natives' - may not be as digitally competent as they think.

CPL director Peter Cosgrove said about three-quarters of those reaching retirement age want to continue working.

“Older staff offer benefits such as more experience, better attendance, and improved diversity of thought within the workforce,” said Cosgrove.

He said there was a need for greater education of managers in the workforce and an increased focus on what skills and abilities a person can bring to a role, regardless of age.

After hours

The CPL research also indicates that most employers like their workers to be, literally, switched on all the time. 77 per cent of employers believe it is reasonable to have employees check the odd e-mail after work hours - though the survey doesn’t say what the definition of ‘odd’ is.

This is in spite of signs that some companies are becoming concerned about the blurring of work and personal lives. Volkswagen has been restricting its after-work e-mails since 2012, while other companies such as BMW have also been imposing limits on work done out of office hours.

Some research has also indicated that workers can be distracted from more important tasks by checking and replying to a stream of e-mails. A study by research group Danwood showed that it takes an average of 64 seconds to recover from an e-mail interruption and return to work.

Roll up your sleeves at work - but not if you have a tattoo

There are also worrying signs for those worried that robots will eventually replace them- 58 per cent of employers are looking at machines which could do a human’s job.

And though some bosses may occasionally tell you to roll up your sleeves, they may not be so happy if they see a tattoo. More than half of employers are less likely to hire a candidate with a tattoo.

Not surprisingly, employers were put off by lateness at interviews (82 per cent) and poor personal hygiene (81 per cent).

Casual dress at an interview created a negative impression for 51 per cent of employers. There was a similar 50/50 split amongst employers on casual dress at work: half believe staff should be formally attired for work and half believe that staff work better in casual clothes.

Meanwhile, CPL’s jobs index reached a new high for 2016, hitting 223 at the second quarter of 2016. This is more than twice the number of jobs posted on average in 2011. The strongest growth for the third time in four quarters was in accountancy, finance and banking.

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