Understand how we got here — and how to move forward.


November 29, 2016

What older and younger workers can learn from each other

Daily Briefing

    Editor's note: This story was updated on May 17, 2018.

    Cross-age mentoring can be beneficial in the workplace, according to Lynda Gratton and Andrew Scott, London Business School professors and co-authors of The 100-Year Life: Living and Working in an Age of Longevity.

    Help your workers with the guide to new hire onboarding

    Gratton and Scott analyzed more than 10,000 responses to a survey on their website and wrote about their conclusions in the Harvard Business Review. They identified two key skills that older people can learn from younger people—and vice versa.

    What younger people can learn from older workers:

    1. How to strike a work-life balance

    Gratton and Scott found that those 40-years-old and above have an easier time managing their workloads than their younger peers. Many have mastered the art of delegation and are comfortable saying "no" to unnecessary demands.

    Constraints or protocols that young people might view as absolute are more flexible in the eyes of the older generation, Gratton and Scott write, but older people often push boundaries and complete tasks in creative ways.

    Older people who have mastered work-life balance have a lot to teach younger workers, many of whom are struggling to balance their work alongside demanding family and social lives, Gratton and Scott argue.

    2. How to be financially prudent

    Gratton and Scott write that younger people generally find it difficult to discuss financial literacy, according to the survey. Young people are less likely to view their assets as they pertain to the future or to exercise self-control in saving for retirement.

    Gratton and Scott cite previous research showing that the majority of retirees wish they'd saved more when they were younger, rather than spending their excess earnings.

    Older people can advise their younger coworkers to consider their future selves and how each financial decision will affect their future.

    What older workers can learn from younger ones:

    1. How to network

    Younger people are often skilled at building relationships and mastering the "diversity of association," Gratton and Scott write.

    Those over the age of 50, on the other hand, often stop building new social circles and become overly comfortable with their current relationships. Gratton and Scott argue that young people can encourage their elders to create more diverse social and professional networks.

    2. How to establish a reputation

    Those over 50 years old often slow down when it comes to publicizing what they can bring to the table, Gratton and Scott found. As people age, they gradually stop building their reputations.

    Younger people, on the other hand, are constantly working to bolster their reputations not only through their resumes, but also by way of their social media accounts. They know how to curate content and could teach their elders to do the same (Gratton/Scott, Harvard Business Review, 11/18).

    Help your workers with the guide to new hire onboarding

    Retaining new hires is one of the longstanding challenges in health care. Despite manager and HR efforts, newly hired employees continue to turn over at a rate far above that of more tenured staff members. Nationally, employees with less than one year of tenure make up nearly 25 percent of all health care turnover.

    But there's good news: better employee onboarding can dramatically reduce these rates. And we have two toolkits to help you improve the onboarding process, including editable templates, checklists, and guides to equip both HR and managers to efficiently and effectively onboard new employees.

    Get the Toolkits

    More from today's Daily Briefing
    1. Current ArticleWhat older and younger workers can learn from each other

    Have a Question?


    Ask our experts a question on any topic in health care by visiting our member portal, AskAdvisory.