Age-gap sensitivity is the need of the hour for companies who tend to ignore the issues arising out of age differences in their cadre. Sumit Kumar, founder and director of an HR consultancy, notes that this is actually an exciting and unique proposition for employers to work upon. Age gap can actually affect intra-office collaborations. His advice: HR departments need to build a conducive environment where people can give constructive feedback and embrace the diversity rather than thinking it as a problem. On their own, employees have to guard against ageism in daily work like falling prey to age stereotypes or refusing to work with someone not their age contemporary.

Kumar mentions that age-gap sensitivity can be fostered with continuous employee engagement where interaction across age groups is encouraged. Aron suggests a pragmatic approach: “I do not think, we need the ‘old bastion’ to change. Neither do we want the younger generations to change. We want all generations to co-exist. The idea is to make them respect each others’ contribution and work together.”

The idea of fighting age at the workplace is more organisational. Just like the generation gap is handled at the family level — through mutual understanding and respect, transparent communication and expectation setting and compliance with some ground rules laid down by the head of the family — the same needs to be translated at the workplace. Aron says, “I lead a team of zillenials. I have laid down clear processes that ensure work gets done and monitored without infringing on their personal space and values.”

Monthly meetings that revolve around team bonding, moving away from clocking time to ensuring work happens and managing expectations are some ways to fight differences.

Different work ethics of various generations

Baby Boomers
– Work best in teams
– Value meetings
– Like being able to ask for direction
– Believe in working hard and paying their dues
– Often prioritise work over everything else and gain self-worth from their work

Gen Xers
– Resilient
– Adaptable and independent
– Like working on their own without interference

Gen Yers
 Enjoy challenges
 Savvy and street smart
 Like a structured workplace
 Respect accomplishments over authority
 Want to achieve their own goals

– Want opportunities to learn and grow
– Expect and demand feedback
– Incredibly tech savvy
– Great multi-taskers and skilled collaborators
– Live fast-paced lives
– Prefer to learn for themselves than be told what to do
– Need a sense of purpose

How to manage age gap
– Don’t act like a know-it-all. Be open to learn from each other

 Develop a mentorship programme where generations can exchange ideas and expertise

 Get management up to speed on generational differences

 Knock down partitions, as open offices foster collaborations

 Hold fun-themed days at the office to create camaraderie

 Avoid stereotyping – oldies don’t like technology and millennials don’t respect experience

 Adjust communication methods like creating a mix of in-person meetings and video meets

 Create a culture of mutual respect. Managing generation gap is about showing respect to each and every employee