The many “young” generations and the impact in the workplace

In the western world on average we live longer, we look younger, we get children later. The media talk about “’the 40’ies are the new 30’ies” and “the 50’ies are the new 40’ies” – meaning people behave, dress and look younger than before. On that note, the other day I had dinner with a group of people were I would have guessed all the 35year-olds to be no older than 27.

The fact that we live longer actually creates challenges for governments; how to pay for retirement when people need it for some much longer? In France the solution last year was to increase the retirement age. France is not the only country taking action, or considering taking action. However, some people choose to work longer, as they feel fit and they love their jobs. Others look forward to a long “2nd life”.

Looking young may have its advantages and disadvantages. In business, young people sometimes feel underestimated by older workers, and it gets even more frustrating when you have the experience that it takes, you just don’t look like it!

A few days ago I talked with a lady in her early thirties, who has sent a large number of applications without getting an interview, in fact she doesn’t even get a response. She works for a well-known company, she has a consistent education and experience curriculum, and hence it should in principal interest a new employer. The reasons may be many to why she doesn’t get a response (which is very unprofessional and short-sighted, by the way), but I wonder whether she is experiencing some of that anticipation “young woman, she will get babies soon”. And that may be true, however, as women get children up until their mid forties – how can a future employer even guess? It is trickier these days, and that is just great! There is, unfortunately, a lot of discrimination going on when it comes to selecting, recruiting and promoting employees – but the fact that people get babies over a large time span (feeling younger), could actually make it more difficult to discriminate women at least..

The “young” generations are many, we categorise them in “x” and “y” and “silent”, but you know.. people in their 80’ies send text messages and talk with their grandchildren via chat.. I think we are in a time of transformation – and seen from a diversity perspective I think it creates lots of changes, challenges and opportunities.

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