Australia now has the oldest retirement age in the developed world, which means the trend of older workers working for younger bosses will soon be the rule, rather than the exception. Young and older workers have very different values and ideas so how can they both work harmoniously together? It requires acceptance, respect and possibly a brand new attitude.

Workplace demographics are changing

If you’re in your 40’s and 50’s, it’s increasingly likely that you’ll be supervised or managed by someone younger than yourself at some stage in your career. Would you have a problem with that? In today’s workforce, it’s often very challenging for older workers to gain employment once they hit 45 or 50 because they’re seen by some as just too old. I’ve harped on about this many times – older workers can offer so many things. The have a greater range of life skills, they have a whole career worth of experience, their children have grown up so they have limited family commitments, plus they’re reliable and motivated to stay employed. But sometimes older workers feel resentment and negativity which is a barrier to what could be a great working relationship.

Younger workers also shouldn’t be written off just because of their age. They may well have been promoted or recruited because they have the most up-to-date skills sets, managerial abilities and right attitude. In order for the younger boss/older worker relationship to really thrive, there needs to be acceptance on both sides. If you’re in this very situation, below are 3 tips to help make it work for you.

The right attitude really counts

You may know your job (and possibly theirs) inside out so there could be times when you both have very different ideas and opinions on how things should be done. Trust that senior management has recognised their ability to handle the job and make important decisions, so just go with the flow. Support their decisions 100% and be open to their direction.

They are managing the team for a reason

If you’re harbouring resentment because you were passed over for a promotion – well just get over it. Loyalty doesn’t count anymore and it makes no difference if you’ve worked for the company for 5 months or 5 years. It’s your skills set and attitude that makes the difference. If you want a job just like your younger boss, start learning new skills, enrol in a training course and get more tech savvy.

Stay positive

Understand that your younger boss may also be feeling a little uncomfortable about directing someone who is probably old enough to be their parent. Learn from each other and don’t be surprised if your younger boss can teach you a thing or two. Embrace new technologies and be open to doing things differently. A positive workplace is a happy workplace.

You may even find that your complimentary skills make a winning team!

How we can help.

Employment Innovations HR consulting service delivers tailored human resource solutions for your business including leadership development and team training. Contact us today to speak with one of our consultants  to see how we can assist in ensuring your business has compliant HR processes and is growing with high performing teams and an engaged culture.