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Older Workers Valued for Their Experience, Research Shows

AARP survey finds that mentoring helps build a multigenerational workforce

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Whether young or old, most workers believe that they can learn a lot from their colleagues of different ages, according to new research from AARP.

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Seven out of 10 adults polled said they like working with people from generations other than their own, according to AARP's online survey. Older workers appreciate younger colleagues’ tech skills, creativity and new perspectives. And younger employees value older coworkers’ wisdom and experience with navigating the workplace. The survey of 1,000 adults age 18 and older who were working either full- or part-time was conducted late last year.

A clear majority of respondents (77 percent) said having older colleagues creates an opportunity to learn new skills. What's more, 69 percent said that older employees make the work environment more productive.

“There are many things that I have learned, but the best one was how to behave in the workplace in the sense of making sure that everyone sees your worth without questioning what you do,” one 28-year-old man commented when asked what he learned from elder workmates.

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“Younger workers come from diverse households and backgrounds,” said a 62-year-old female respondent. “Their ‘wider perspectives’ help open us older workers’ eyes to the changing world and workplace.”

The survey also found that mentorship is one of most effective ways to build a multigenerational workforce, making those who have had such a relationship more likely to see the benefits of collaborating with people from different generations. Nearly two-thirds of employees have either been a mentor or a mentee, and 83 percent of respondents said that a mentorship had been important to their career.

When asked for a piece of advice they would give their younger selves, 20 percent of older respondents said they would stress perseverance and hard work, 20 percent would emphasize finishing school and continuing to learn, and 17 percent would note the importance of listening to and learning from others. “Find yourself a mentor,” said one 62-year-old woman.

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