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Boomer Workers Are Fine With Younger Bosses

Survey shows they’re more comfortable with age differences than other generations

Boomers Younger Bosses

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57 percent of 55-and-older workers said they’re “very comfortable” with having a younger boss.

With boomers increasingly extending their careers, it’s inevitable that many will find themselves reporting to millennial supervisors. Although that could be a recipe for strife, a new survey shows that most boomers not only don't object to the idea of younger bosses but see benefits to this arrangement.

In the survey of 1,000-plus workers by staffing firm OfficeTeam, 57 percent of 55-and-older workers said they’re “very comfortable” with having a younger boss, compared with 40 percent of 35- to 54-year-olds and 36 percent of 18- to-34-year-olds. Another 36 percent of 55-plus workers were “somewhat comfortable” with the idea, and 7 percent expressed discomfort.

About a quarter of older workers saw differing work ethics, values and expectations as the biggest potential problems, whereas 20 percent identified different leadership and learning styles. Some 16 percent cited clashing communication approaches.

Brandi Britton, a district president at OfficeTeam, said boomers have spent more time in the workforce than previous generations, and their maturity makes them better able to roll with changes. “There’s also probably an understanding that it’s natural for younger workers to advance in their careers and step into leadership roles,” she added.

Jeanne Meister, a founding partner of human resource advisory firm Future Workplace and author of The Future Workplace Experience: 10 Rules for Mastering Disruption in Recruiting and Engaging Employees, said older workers succeed by focusing on using their skills to complement a younger boss’s talents and by accepting “reverse mentoring” to get up to speed on new technologies.

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