The paper 'An Age-diverse Workforce' is a great example of a Management Literature Review. As the case material discussed, the need for experienced and productive workforce demands that organizations should consider hiring or retaining individuals in the workforce that are already in the retirement age. Apart from the fact that the population of the baby boomers in the workforce is steadily increasing, there is also a gap in skills, experience, and workplace maturity between baby boomers and the workers from generations X and Y (Hanks and Icenogle, 2001). While it is true that an age-diverse workforce can both be a reward or a threat to the organization, depending on how the organization handles it, there are certain issues that can be associated with managing the workforce coming from a very diverse age group. From the perspective of organizational behavior, strong and effective workforce management is required to tap the potential of a diverse workforce (Johns, 2006).
This is because handling a diverse workforce – whether culturally diverse, gender diverse, or age-diverse workforce – can be a daunting task. A heterogeneous workforce translates to strong conflict potential in the workforce as differences in views, opinions, idealisms, and workforce methodologies could disrupt workplace efficiency and productivity (Mowday and Sutton, 1993).
Moreover, these multi-layered differences can cause strains in workforce relationships as individuals clash and fail to cohere to produce good results. There are at least three possible issues that could occur in handling generational diversity in the workplace. First, the workplace orientation between and among individuals from different age brackets may conflict with each other and could potentially result in stressful and counter-productive situations. More specifically, these differences can lead to poor communication, misunderstanding of workplace attitudes, and lack of motivation or fewer interpersonal engagements between generations.
Flynn (1996) argued that the age gap between generations as well as the workforce environment they came to grow up with sets them apart from each other, whether in the workplace or in the domestic settings. For example, Baby Boomers (or those who were born in the early 1940s to late 1950s) are seen as highly optimistic and result-driven individuals who have made huge successes in their careers.
The strong adherence to loyalty and work ethics of the baby boomers could come in conflict with the job-hopping attitude of the Millennial (those who were born in the 1980s). It is highly certain that workplace conflicts could arise because of the disparity between perspectives, values, and ideas between individuals from different generations. As Lancaster et al (2002) put it, communication does not always flow coherently when there is a wide age gap between individuals. Certain situations in the workplace are sure to tap these generational differences and stretch parties involved to their limits.
A good example is in the decision-making process. Baby Boomers typically would prefer decisions and actions that are thoroughly and carefully considered whereas the Generation Y and the Millennial would jump on the next best opportunity. These differences in opinion could lead to difficult situations and the failure to resolve these differences may result in inter-personal conflicts (Hou et. al., 2005). For certain, ANZ would not want to encounter unnecessary workplace conflicts.
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