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Is teaching older workers a productivity drain?


This idea came up when I asked on Twitter about generational issues in the workplace.

@diabolicalpnthr responded (in 2 tweets): “It kills productivity to have to explain social media and new technologies to the older generation in an office. It’s hard to get an older… coworker to try new things, so you end up a)explaining all the time or b)doing it for them.”

This is part of a BW effort to open up discussions on workplace issues, including work-life balance, toxic bosses, generational issues, and others. A colleague asked me to Twitter and blog (again) about one of them. So I picked Generational issues. I got loads of responses, which I’ll cut and paste at the bottom of this post. But here are a few of the ideas:

* We exaggerate the differences between the generations

* We exaggerate the tech prowess of the young

* Younger workers look at e-mail as a boomer/x back channel

* Powerful boomers ally themselves with tech-savvy Millennials to reduce and isolate Gen Xers. (I find that one intriguing.)

Here are a couple blog posts people linked to, one on asking young journalists to reinvent the newsroom, and another on ageism among (what used to be called) Web 2.0 big shots.

The rest of the Twitter responses follow:

jyarmis: @stevebaker take note @kjreilly: looking through resumes: shocked at things written and that innappropriate facebook items aren't blocked!

nutmegalfredo: @stevebaker this is huge. BPA, where I worked, filtered e-access so harshly, it was impossible to get anything done! the higher ups no idea

katefettighill: @stevebaker not all companies exp. gen issues; Radio Flyer employs 60 ppl btw 23-63, no issues due to open-minds, respect & fun workplace!

sandraproulx: @stevebaker stories about generational issue annoy GenY/Millennials; we're tired of reading that we're lazy/entitled

mosleyppr: @stevebaker as a virtual co. we use social med x all generations for most sr. members to those with few yrs experience; mandatory @PerkettPR

yogadad: @stevebaker I'm pretty tired of reading articles about generational issues in the workplace. Of course that could be my boomer outlook...

astrout: @stevebaker Millennials are forcing companies to leverage online communities to capture & x-fer intelligence of boomers before they retire.

kennysmith: @stevebaker You're talking speed of acquisition & mode/method of adoption -- is it experimental or hesitant & obligatory? -- also cool pants

diabolicalpnthr: @stevebaker its hard to get an older generation coworker to try new things, so you end up a)explaining all the time or b)doing it for them.

lorirusso: @stevebaker Great idea. Major differences even between the 30-somethings and the 20-somethings. Biggest issue is accountability.

diabolicalpnthr: @stevebaker it kills productivity to have to explain social media and new technologies to the older generation in an office.

about 19 hours ago Reply View Tweet Thread Show ConversationHide Conversation

jfl1066: @stevebaker overblown issue new gen not as adaptable or gen y as msm makes them out-at least in more traditional company

pranikoff: @stevebaker how about the fact that many upper management don't want to allow social media in the workplace - very generational.

alexgorbokon: @stevebaker what kind of perspective do you need re: gen workplace issues? I have some thoughts. gchat/email: aegorbokon@gmail.com

AngelaWilson: @stevebaker HUGE thing. Differences in technology knowledge. Hover parents with kids who expect the world given to them and managers who have to deal with said youthful royalty.

lorita: @stevebaker Have worked in a co w/27 as the average age, then where 45 is, I think it's mindset-are creativity & collaboration encouraged?

RedBullMom: @stevebaker some younger (is that subjective?) folks in our co. have called email our "back channel". thought that was an interesting shift.

jayrosen_nyu: @stevebaker One idea for you, Steve. http://is.gd/LSN (expand) "Let born-on-the-web people try to figure out better work flows. " http://is.gd/On9 (expand)

brandonw: @stevebaker Something different? Battle btw GenX & GenMillennium as Boomers have minimized GenX & now are handing reins to GenMil

jyarmis: @stevebaker you should read my piece on user 2.0 ... some big differences cos need to adopt to internally and from mktg perspective

olivermarks: @stevebaker you won't find many aged tech luddites on twitter...familiar 2.0 tools 4 young staff & capturing wisdom pre retirement key IMO

Pandaran: @stevebaker talk about a difference in mindset.

Pandaran: @stevebaker Digg had great article on 20-somethings saying they'd quit their job if Facebook was blocked.

susank: @stevebaker What about how it influences writing and language ie, use of LOL, BTW and others in sentences? Tendency to forget how to write.

Pandaran: @stevebaker Awesome idea! A big difference is the value placed on social media tools. Younger see value, older see waste of time.

McMatt: @stevebaker re: generational ideas, fairly common/cliche, but older generations expecting younger employees to be online mavens

JCrites: @stevebaker I could go on for days about the struggle to infuse new media strategies w/ Radio (battling old school execs: "blog schmog").

MelWebster: @stevebaker use of email versus social network sites and IM. "kids" coming into the workplace today don't use email

davidparmet: @stevebaker any discussion of generational issues makes me feel old. I grew up before computers.

kolson29: @stevebaker i've been the "young girl" at too many jobs, looked down at, grumbled about

Merredith: @stevebaker, does this have to do with that GOOG case? Also, I posted an entry re web 2.0 and age: http://alittleclarity.wordpress.com

missusP: @stevebaker Penelope Trunk writes a lot about that topic - I remember in particular one post about her choice of a Gen Y biz partner.

xybrewer: @stevebaker: Blog comments required. Some of us have *lots* of thoughts on that one!


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