This is the first of two posts on AchieveGlobal’s study on age-based stereotypes in the workplace, and our report “Age-Based Stereotypes: Silent Killer of Collaboration and Productivity.” Be sure to visit agestereotypes.com for the full research report.
You may have noticed it too: it seems everybody and everything has a Facebook profile these days. What started out as a social network for university students is now a site that unites humanity across barriers of nationality, race, occupation, and yes… age. It’s not uncommon to find three or four generations of families on Facebook, sometimes to the chagrin of younger members of that family.
While the research draws out intriguing details about social media usage differences among the generations, the overwhelming truth is that people ages 13 to 73 are largely using sites like Facebook to do the same things: stay in touch with friends, share information with family, and gather around popular causes and trends.
This commonality of social media usage across various ages mirrors our own research findings which suggest people of all ages have more in common in the workplace than the pop-culture media and many pundits portray.
The responses to an AchieveGlobal survey to employees across five countries and four generations confirmed yet another common thread: Employees in all age groups, generations, organizational levels, and geographic regions endorse significant age stereotypes.
Slightly even more disturbing? The higher the level of employee – the more prominent stereotyping became. So what does this mean for your organization? Are there any implications?
Yes. Let’s say a Gen Xer assumes their Baby Boomer colleague knows nothing about social media, and therefore, neglects to invite him/her to a brainstorming meeting about a new Twitter strategy. This assumption about the Baby Boomer (who, by the way, happens to have 15,000+ Twitter followers) has now eradicated the possibility of collaborating with someone who could bring extreme value and expert advice to the table. This type of behavior contributes to cross-generational tensions in the workplace and decreased productivity.
Our report highlights twelve signs of organizational ageism. Take a look at this list to see where your own organization might be falling back on the dangerous practice of stereotyping based on the birth-year of colleagues. If you’re still questioning, we invite you to take our quiz.
Sharon Daniels is CEO of AchieveGlobal in Tampa, Florida