Sixty percent of professionals have reported a rise in ‘new challenges’ post-pandemic when working with colleagues from different generations.

40 percent reportedly say they are ‘not on the same page’ as their teammates, when it comes to workplace values.  

The annual survey from professional services recruiter Robert Walters suggests intergenerational conflict in the workplace has seen a sharp rise  – with 33 percent of managers unaware of the rising tensions within their team.

The research identified the main sources of this conflict as attitudes toward technology, and a shift in work-related values with 40 percent reporting feeling ‘annoyed’ at their colleagues’ attitudes. 

“Whilst this isn’t the first time our research has identified sources of inter-generational conflict in the workplace, what our 2022 data reveals is the stark impact of the pandemic,” says Toby Fowlston, Global CEO at Robert Walters, “and how the long periods of remote working have fragmented workplace culture and the values which colleagues once upon a time may have shared”.

Results from the survey revealed the following priorities different generations place on their employer:

  • Gen Z (18-24 yrs): seek a workplace culture built on purpose (33 percent), strong social values (27 percent), and mental health & wellness (42 percent) – with older generations feeling that this cohort should focus on ‘the job at hand’ first and foremost (62 percent).
  • Millennials (25-39 yrs): or the mid-management generation – are pushing hard for more flexibility and remote working (55 percent) – with other generations feeling this cohort are playing the ‘family or long commute card’ too much post pandemic (37 percent).
  • Gen X (40 – 55 yrs) & Baby Boomers (55 – 74 yrs): value a work-life balance (37 percent), but remain highly autonomous, self-sufficient, resourceful, and adaptable – with younger generations feeling that that this cohort are disconnected socially & politically and have too much of a ‘get on with it’ attitude (25 percent).

Technology Causing a Glitch

Technology continues to be a reoccurring theme when it comes to inter-generational conflict in the workplace – with the pandemic only heightening frustrations.  

In fact, a third of workers under the age of 30 continue to have issues with the use of outdated technology – with slow computer systems, and clunky data portals being the leading reasons for frustration.

  • Gen Z (18-24 yrs): 24 percent would like to swap ‘admin heavy’ work-in-progress reports or virtual catchups in favour of project-tracking apps such as Trello or Monday – with a large proportion of older workers (55+) feeling this will dilute in-person collaboration
  • Millennials (25-39 yrs): 37 percent would like to move away from the reliance on emails as the primary form of communication – preferring instant chat portals such as Teams for casual questions. However, a large proportion of over 50s prefer email chains – describing it as a ‘record of their work.’

Toby Fowlston says the research presents a clear challenge for employers: “As companies continue to return to the office, identifying the common sources of conflict and addressing them head on will be essential to creating and retaining cohesive teams of professionals from varied generations and diversity of opinions.”