What Older Workers Can Learn From Younger Workers

Joseph Stubblebine
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Most leaders call on experienced workers to train new staff and mentor young workers. It's important to remember that older workers can learn valuable lessons from recent graduates. From technical skills to the ability to have fun on the job, younger staff members can even improve work environments for all.


According to a poll conducted by Robert Half Technology, a bit over one-third of surveyed IT executives plan to hire recent IT graduates this year. Despite that number, many hiring managers felt that younger workers were not fully equipped for a professional atmosphere. In these cases, leadership planned for a learning curve in areas like communication. Even so, recent technical education is considered valuable in the IT field, and there's an expectation that the newbie staff members will be able to teach older workers about new processes or products. That observation isn't limited to the IT field. Younger workers in any niche bring life-long computer skills, knowledge about new devices, and updated training to the workforce.


Recent graduates may need to take a few lessons from older workers regarding interpersonal skills, but young workers can trade communication tips by offering both knowledge of and a high comfort level with social media. Younger workers can help experienced staff connect with other businesses and professionals online. They can also contribute to online marketing efforts by setting up social media accounts, managing social media content, or offering new ideas regarding Internet-related endeavors. Unlike older workers, new grads spent their formative years texting, instant messaging, and researching online—experienced leaders can take advantage of these innate skills to enhance online branding and communication.


One aspect of younger workers that human resources staff can leverage is enthusiasm. Older workers can be burned out or tired, and bringing in new staff can rejuvenate a team, reminding experienced employees why they started out with a passion for the niche. Younger workers can also remind older workers how to have fun on the job. Long-time staff can get caught up in work, complaints, and negative aspects of a job. Allowing new employees to be a part of motivational programs, make suggestions, and help lead teams can redirect negative habits with positive energy. It's important for HR or leadership to monitor such efforts carefully, though, because it can be easy for newer team members to be influenced by the thoughts or emotions of experienced staff.


Creating diversified teams allows you to leverage a wide range of skillsets and thoughts in your business. You need experienced, trustworthy staff to make decisions and lead departments, but younger workers have value as well. By encouraging older workers to learn from new hires, you can increase the skill and morale of your entire team.


(Photo courtesy of stockimages / freedigitalphotos.net)


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  • Melissa Kennedy
    Melissa Kennedy
    Thanks for stopping by. Katherine - You're absolutely right. No matter what you age, the need to feel important, valued and respected stays the same. If every manager took that to heart, there wouldn't be nearly as many issues between younger and older employees.Dawn - That seems to be the stereotype, but older workers could be new to the industry and therefore less experienced, while a younger employee could have spent years in the field via paid or unpaid internships. You can just never know.
  • Katherine G
    Katherine G
    Several studies indicate that two work goals span all generations at work: respect and being valued for one's contribution. If organizations, and their leaders, keep these two goals in mind, much of the drama centered on age dissolves.  
  • DAWN W
    DAWN W
    I feel," Older worker means more experienced." As a younger worker, considering my self that because," I'm possessed with skills career minded."

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