A Generation Gap in How Workers Perceive Their Jobs
April 7, 2000
In workplaces of all types, new technologies and new ways of organizing work are creating divides between older, long-time employees and younger new hires, personnel experts report. The differing attitudes toward their jobs can create friction on shop floors and headaches for management.
Here are a few examples:
- The young are more casual toward work -- but they also tend to be less resistant to new training -- than their older counterparts, who opted for factory work because they didn't care much for school when they were young.
- Younger workers favor 12-hour shifts and more days off to pursue pleasurable pursuits, while older workers prefer to stick with traditional 8-hour shifts and standard weekly schedules -- often, younger workers complain, because work is their life.
- Some younger workers learn how to handle new technical equipment and fail to share their expertise with older workers -- because if they are called in at odd hours they earn six hours' pay under union rules, even if the fix takes only five minutes.
- However, if new technological developments threaten their jobs, both young and old react with a somewhat nonchalant attitude -- the young viewing their jobs as temporary and their elders being comparatively unconcerned because they are nearing retirement.
In the latter case, those in the middle -- who have built up some seniority but are still far from retirement -- are the ones who are nervous.
Source: Timothy Aeppel, "Young and Old See Technology Sparking Friction on Shop Floor," Wall Street Journal, April 7, 2000.
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