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The challenges of managing an age-diverse team

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Though 86% of employees around the world believe working in a multi-generational team can help promote innovation, almost seven in 10 prefer that their direct managers be their age or older, according to the latest Randstad Workmonitor.

This sentiment is higher in Asia, with 82% of the respondents saying that they would rather work with a manager who is older than them. This is a reflection of a typical Asian culture where people tend to value status and seniority at the workplace over learnability and competence.

In Hong Kong, 86% want to work with a manager who is older than them, which is the highest compared to Singapore, Malaysia, mainland China and the global average. In Singapore, 79% want to work with an older manager, and 81% from Malaysia have the same preference.

Randstad Workmonitor 1

“It might be an easier decision to promote someone who is older rather than someone who is slightly younger who demonstrates leadership qualities,” Natellie Sun, managing director, Randstad Hong Kong said.

However, Sun added that sometimes the best person for the role may not necessarily be the older employee. “Companies that want to succeed need to look at their talent pool to identify and nurture people who have the ability to lead and are constantly curious about how they can increase efficiencies in all aspects of the business.”

The notion of respect in the Asian culture can be witnessed in the workplace as managers tend to treat colleagues differently based on their age. Seven in 10 respondents across Asia said that their direct managers treat their colleagues from various generations differently. This sentiment is the highest in Hong Kong (80%) and mainland China recorded the lowest (67%).

In Singapore, 70% of employees said colleagues from different generations are not treated in the same way. Nearly 70% of Malaysian employees share the same sentiment.

Randstad Workmonitor 2

An age-diverse workforce can be challenging as leaders may feel overpowered by an experienced and mature coworker as compared to a younger executive who may request for more autonomy at work.

On the other hand, less than four in 10 employees around the world are concerned about their future accomplishments than their immediate tasks. Employees and job seekers in Asia are also more likely to prioritise their daily tasks as compared to achieving future goals (71%).

Randstad Workmonitor 3

“While meeting deadlines is important to many employees as a form of instant gratification, having a long-term goal is still a must-have for career progression. It provides people with a direction of where they want to be and what they need to do to attain those goals. Long-term achievements also encourage people to adopt a lifelong learning attitude at work and speak to their managers regularly on how the company can support their career development paths,” added Sun.


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