Workers of different ages don't chat enough: survey

NEW YORK (Reuters Life!) - Workers aren’t bridging the generation gap because 20-something employees rarely chat to those in their 50s and 60s, according to a new survey.

Office workers are seen in a file photo. REUTERS/Tim Wimborne

The poll of 3,494 adults by employment services group Randstad USA showed that 51 percent of baby boomers and 66 percent of older workers report little to no interaction with their younger colleagues.

Employment experts fear the lack of communication could create a shortage of U.S. skilled labor because retiring baby boomers aren’t passing on their knowledge and experience.

“Older workers stereotypically view younger workers as not as competent and not having such a work ethic,” said Eric Buntin, managing director, marketing and operations for Randstad USA. “Younger workers view the older as not thinking outside the box.”

He said the different generations of employees do not have the same expectations of work and values of employment, which is a difficult gap to bridge.

“The key is that organizations find a way structurally for generations to interact but it can’t be a rah-rah coffee or lunch,” Buntin said.

“It has to be bringing them together in meaningful ways so they’re engaged in projects together and that has to be managed in the course of time.”

The survey examined four generations, Generation Y, born between 1980 to 1988; Generation X, born 1965 to 1979; baby boomers born in 1946 to 1964 and matures born before 1945.

The survey also showed that three of the four generations said they have little to no interaction with the most experienced workers -- matures.

That’s despite Generation Y people having a relatively poor view of their age group, with only 29 percent of Generation Y workers rating their generation as competent, the survey said.

Reporting by Megan Davies