Search
Advice » In the Workplace» Workplace Issues » What Older Workers and Younger ...
What Older Workers and Younger Workers Can Learn from Each Other

What Older Workers and Younger Workers Can Learn from Each Other

For the first time ever, four distinct generations share the workplace: the Silents (who are in their mid-60s on up), Baby Boomers (mid-40s to mid-60s), X-ers (mid-20s to mid-40s) and Millennials (the newest workers). The work and life experiences of each group are unique, but the divide is clearest between the two oldest generations and the two youngest.

As is always true, older workers can teach younger colleagues a thing or two. But education is a two-way street, and older workers can also learn from newer hires. Here are a few of those lessons.

What Older Workers Can Teach Younger Workers

  • Hard Times: “Younger workers didn’t go through the recession of the 1970s, and there are still people in the workplace who remember the Depression,” says Ben Dattner, an industrial and organizational psychologist and consultant. “They can pass along wisdom about economic cycles and provide a long-range view of things.” 

  • Loyalty: It may be out of fashion these days, but sticking with one employer or boss has its own rewards. Older workers know what it means to commit through thick and thin, Dattner says. It may not be easy to stay the course with one company -- especially when a quick job change may bring instant gratification, more pay and better perks -- but older workers know that some companies do take care of the employees who stay and take care of the company.

  • Experience: Whether it’s corporate policies, company politics or industry knowledge, older workers know the ropes, Dattner says. Most of them are happy to pass along what they know about people, jobs and success.

  • Interpersonal Skills: “Older workers are social animals [who are] very skilled at one-on-one relationships,” says consultant Chuck Underwood, author of The Generational Imperative: Understanding Generational Differences in the Workplace, Marketplace and Living Room. “All the technological knowledge of younger workers doesn’t compensate for their lack of interpersonal time.” Older workers can teach younger ones about basic workplace interpersonal skills such as common courtesy and team play.

  • Regrets: “Older workers usually have a good understanding of what they regret in their career choices,” says Penelope Trunk, blogger and author of Brazen Careerist: The New Rules for Success. “People usually regret not what they did, but what they didn’t do. Older workers can use those regrets to pass along ideas on how to steer your career so it can be more fulfilling.”

  • Independence: “For years, younger workers have been taken care of by parents and their communities, but now they’re on their own,” Trunk says. “Older workers know how to depend on themselves. They can teach new workers that when they’re at work, they can’t count on anyone to take care of them.”

What Younger Workers Can Teach Older Workers

  • New Technology: This is the most obvious area. Whether it’s computers, PDAs or any other device with bits and bytes, chances are younger workers know how to use it. If they don’t, they’re comfortable learning how. And, like most people with a skill, they’re usually happy to pass on what they know.

  • Diversity: Younger workers come from diverse households and backgrounds. Their “wider perspectives” can help open older workers’ eyes to the changing world and workforce, Dattner says.

  • Job-Hopping: “Older workers have been told that only bad, disloyal or incompetent employees leave,” Trunk says. “In fact, today it’s the superstars who jump from job to job.” While older workers may regard career change as negative, young people understand that it can be fulfilling, energizing -- even life-changing. 

  • Risk Taking: “Younger workers are extremely entrepreneurial,” Underwood says. “They’re excellent out-of-the-box thinkers. That’s especially true compared to people who have spent their careers respecting corporate hierarchies and processes, not taking a lot of risks.” Though that was not necessarily bad in earlier times, “a new era demands a new way of thinking,” he says.

  • Balancing Work/Life Issues: “Older workers have done a horrible job with family and work-life balance issues,” Underwood says. “Younger workers are not career-driven. They can show older workers different attitudes and values.”

  • Fulfilling Dreams: “Older workers have had tons of responsibilities throughout their careers, but now that they’re without kids or mortgages, they’re free,” Trunk says. “They can go out and fulfill their dreams -- but they may not realize it. If they see how younger workers act and feel, they can follow their lead.”

Latest Jobs

Appian Staffing
Posted: 04/16/2014
Portland, OR, 97201
Appian Staffing
Posted: 04/16/2014
Fremont, CA, 94536
Appian Staffing
Posted: 04/16/2014
Pleasanton, CA, 94566
Appian Staffing
Posted: 04/16/2014
Napa, CA, 94559
DHR Clinical Research Inc
Posted: 04/16/2014
Memphis, TN, 38103

Want more personalized results?  Update Your Profile

 
 
 

Monster Communities

Teaching Community
Where teachers meet and learn.
ArtBistro
Create and connect.
Excelle
Networking for the career-minded woman.
Nursing Link
Where nurses call the shots.
More Monster Communities

Monster Partners

Scholarships
Scholarships, financial aid and more ways to pay for school.
Education.org
Find top campus and online degree programs.
Military.com
Military portal for the US Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard.
Financial Aid
Scholarships & financial aid.
Staffing for Government Jobs
Staffing and hiring solutions for federal government agency jobs.
More Monster Partners

Job Hunt Strategy

Six Ways to Make a Recruiter Hate You
If you want to blow your chances with recruiters -- and, by extension, with the companies they work for -- here are six perfect ways to do so.

Resumes & Cover Letters

Rev Up Your Resume to Relocate
Hoping to relocate? Get the ball rolling on landing the right job in the right location with these expert resume and cover letter tips.

Interviewing

100 Potential Interview Questions
Interview questions can run the gamut. You probably won't face all 100 of these, but you should still be prepared to answer at least some of them.

Salary & Benefits

10 Questions to Ask When Negotiating Salary
Most of us aren't natural negotiators, but asking these 10 questions during salary negotiations can help you get everything you deserve.

Employee Sourcing

Alt text
November Monster Employment Index Grows 13% Year-Over-Year, Tenth Consecutive Month of Positive Annual Growth.

For Seekers

Campus and Online Degrees
Advance your career and earn more with an online degree.
Free Salary Wizard
What are you worth? Find out and negotiate a better salary.
Research Careers
Get information on jobs and career paths to help guide your choices
Questions & Answers
Find answers to all your career related questions -- powered by Yahoo! Answers
Resume Distribution Service
Our distribution service puts your resume right in the hands of recruiters.
Resume Writing Services
Our experts will craft a keyword-rich resume that stands out in the crowd.
More Career Resources

For Employers

Career Ad Network
Target your job posting to more candidates on thousands of websites.
Hire Right Background Checks
Explore our background check packages to improve the quality of your hires.
Hiring Home Page
Find the best candidates for your business with Monster hiring solutions.
Job Postings
Find the right solution for your hiring needs. Starting at $99.
Power Resume Search
Monster's new search technology precisely matches people with your jobs.
Resource Center
Find staffing insights, labor trends, HR best practices and more.
Target Post
Connect with skilled, hourly and administrative candidates for only $99.

Social Media

Jobs on Twitter
Find jobs in your area and industry.
Monster Careers
Tune into our career advice and discussions tackling a wide range of topics and industries.
Monster Corporate & PR
Stay up-to-date on the latest news. Get the 'Who', 'What', 'When', and 'Why' on all things Monster related.
Monster Customer Service
Got a Monster question? We've got the answer. Whether you're a job seeker or employer, we can help you find the answers you need.
Monster for Employers
Find advice on hiring.
Follow Us
Check out our many pages and stay connected with the latest industry news, events, career advice and job openings.

Other Links

Monster Company Profiles
Explore companies and get information to guide your career decisions.
Compare Salaries
See how your pay stacks up to others in your field.
iPhone Application
Download the Monster app for iPhone and iPod touch.
Monster Job Seeker Blog
Monster Job Seeker Blog.
Monster Thinking Blog
Monster's Recruitment Trends Blog.
Jobs & Career Resources
Search Jobs:
For Employers: Post Jobs | Search Resumes | Advertise
About Monster | Work for Monster | Advertise with Us | AdChoices | Partner with Us | Investor Relations | Social Media
Terms of Use | Privacy Center | Accessibility Center | Help | Security | Contact Us | Sitemap | Mobile
©2014 Monster - All Rights Reserved U.S. Patents No. 5,832,497; 7,599,930 B1; 7,827,125 and 7,836,060 MWW - Looking for Monster Cable? - V: 2014.1.40.6-313
eTrustLogo