Guide to Managing Employees Who Are Older Than You

Guide to Managing Employees Who Are Older Than You

Deskera Content Team
Deskera Content Team
Table of Contents
Table of Contents

It is very common to see youngsters handling respectable and high profile positions in the organisation today. These individuals have successfully climbed the ladder in very less time in their career and are seen in leadership positions in businesses of different sectors. At this time, the professional is responsible for mentoring and leading the employees of different age groups. It includes managing older employees in the company to ensure project completion on time. Let us understand how a manager or any high level professional should handle elderly workers through this blog. We would be covering the following points on this page -

  1. What are the statistics about the age differences?
  2. What do elder employees think about the younger generation?
  3. How can a boss play a crucial role in managing older employees?
  4. For better Business Outcomes: Help them Integrate to work styles
  5. Conclusion
  6. How can Deskera Assist you?
  7. Key Takeaways

What are the statistics about the age differences?

According to available data from Pew Research Center, there is some very interesting data about the future of the workforce. It has given out the statistics in 2018 which say there are more than 56 million millennials who were either employed in some organization or were looking for jobs. Millennials are individuals whose age ranges from 21 to 36 years. It is clear from this data that these younger individuals will be making up a huge part of the workforce as compared to any other previous generations in the upcoming years. It implies that these employees would be seen promoted in their careers and would be responsible for managing older employees at some point in their professional life.

As per the available data in one of the surveys, 38% of the participants admitted that they were working under an employee who was comparatively younger than them. In this information, it was revealed that 22% of the employees revealed that their boss was just a few years younger than them whereas nearly 16% of the respondents said that they had a boss who was nearly a decade which means 10 years younger than them.

What do elder employees think about the younger generation?

When it comes to managing older employees or any other worker at the workplace, an employer must remember the thumb rule of treating every individual with proper respect and dignity. According to a study done in 2016, it was found that in some cases, the employees did not receive proper respect and recognition for the work done in the business. Hence, the companies where a young supervisor was managing older employees stated the following reasons for their dislike of being handled by someone younger than them -

1. Assumptions: 34 per cent of the participants claimed that their boss made false assumptions related to employees that they did not know how to do certain things. 21 per cent said that the boss thought the employees had no idea about how to use certain technologies.

2. Favouritism: 38 per cent of the employees felt that boss had a greater inclination and favouritism towards the younger workers as compared to the older employees in the company.

How can a boss play a crucial role in managing older employees?

As Rishav Gupta, CEO of iCoachFirst had stated an employer or even the immediate boss cannot get respect from the employees by simply commanding it from them. Instead, if a younger boss has the time of managing older employees, he should make an effort to know about them and other individuals in the team. It will help the boss recognize and understand their individual core strengths and even their work habits at the workplace.

Gupta further stated that the younger boss should not classify and bucket them into different generations or other characteristics. Instead, he should discuss the real and perceived differences while managing older employees in an office room. Furthermore, the boss needs to understand the employee’s perspective and what he brings to the table. He can even arrange knowledge-sharing sessions with these experienced professionals which would prove to be an added benefit for the company. It would not only develop a bond amongst the different generations of professionals in the team but also ensure that everybody has a chance to voice their opinion and ideas.

Mikaela Kiner, founder and CEO of Uniquely HR opined that the younger bosses must have a respectful approach, curiosity and an open mind towards the elder employees. He should take an effort to understand how these individuals got this job, what is exciting for them and how they would like the boss to manage older employees in the organization.

For better Business Outcomes: Help them Integrate to work styles

A boss should understand that irrespective of the age group, every employee has a different working style. Digital applications such as Google Sheets, Slack, Google Meet, Microsoft Teams and CRM programs have become a large and essential part of the workplace every day and are considered quite normal these days. The employees belonging to the older generation might take some time to understand the working of these applications as they have had older work method styles for a long tenure. Hence, while managing older employees, the boss should take time to understand their difficulties and even organize training schedules within the office to make them comfortable with the newest technologies.

The boss can take out time to meet them in person in the meeting room to understand their problems and even ask questions on various topics. It could be related to the new working style which was demonstrated to the elder employees and getting their feedback about the new technologies. This will make them feel valued in the organization. When HR provides assistance to the elder employees in getting acquainted with Microsoft Teams, Google Meet or Slack, it could lead to better voice conversations in their professional career which is very important in business.

Do not over-communicate authority!

It’s a human and natural instinct that elder employees would not like being compelled to professional commitments by someone who is their daughter or granddaughter’s age. Hence, when the young boss is managing older employees, he needs to find a balance of being effective and assertive to the workers and not overcommunicating things in an authoritative manner. He should have the presence of mind and sharp intellect to not resort to using statements such as “I am your boss” while communicating with the elder employees. He should remember how he is telling his credibility and authority in the office while talking to them. The boss should keep his ego aside when it comes to elder employees and build good integrity with them. It is very much possible that the elder workers feel a bit insecure when they are working under someone younger than them.

Be empathetic to elder employees!

When there is a young boss managing elder employees, he needs to keep in mind the age difference and hence, the lifestyles. The lifestyle and energetic approach of a person in their twenties is going to be much different than the employees in their forties or fifties. These mid-aged employees are going to have life obligations outside their workplace. It could be related to children or old-age parents. The boss needs to keep it in the back of mind that these employees are also someone’s mother or father, and have some undisclosed challenges in their life as they struggle to maintain a good work-life balance.

In such circumstances, the boss of the company or a team should practice empathy towards the elder employees. He can acknowledge their situation and give them some time off or an immediate leave so that they can manage the alternative problem they are currently facing in their lives. A good leadership trait is when the boss makes the elder employees feel safe in the business/ workplace. It demonstrates that he understands employee problems and even motivates them to stay for a longer tenure in the office instead of searching for a switch of jobs suddenly. A positive workplace environment and understanding of human emotions play a big role while managing older employees.

Be supportive and collaborative!

All businesses can have atleast one sector where there is a dynamic team with a significant age gap between the manager and the employees. The young leader should ensure there is no feelings of insubordination and resentment while managing older employees in a bid to do the tasks in a competitive yet appropriate way. He should make them feel as he is their biggest supporter. The elder employee staff need to reassured time and again that the company is personally invested in their success as well along with team performance. When the boss makes an atmosphere all employees have equal access to growth in the company, the competitiveness amongst the different employees in the same team will subside.

The simplest way a boss can encourage support and collaboration amongst employees is increasing interaction among the both age groups. The younger employees can as the elder experienced professionals for learning skills they possess and how to master it. The elder employees are have a plethora of skills that they have learnt over the years by successfully handling complex tasks in the company. Asking for help to the co-workers helps to foster loyalty and trust among the employees as well as ensures that they can overcome their vulnerabilities at the workplace with a little support from the team.

Promote Frequent and Transparent Communication!

Frequent communication goes a long way in creating positive relationships in the team. It is a known fact that employees appreciate the company more if they are kept well-informed about the changes in the loop, market forces that might affect the outcome of the company of even giving a pat on the back for a job well done. Millennials are used to open and transparent communication as they believe it makes the team more productive. However, when a young boss is managing older employees, he should concentrate on how he delivers the message to them. When it comes to communicating with the elder employees in the team, clear and concise communication plays an instrumental role in building good connections with them. It bridges the gaps between the two generations and makes working with much more effective. He should keep in mind that this generation prefers a face-to-face conversation or a direct call to convey the important messages of company’s projects.

Be Humble!

A boss or business owner must remember that he needs to humble and down to earth if he wants taste success in his professional life. Ambitions must not let arrogance dominate him and his advanced position in the company, According to a Sara Canaday, a leadership-development expert situated in Austin, Texas, a boss should not brag off about his position and show a rude attitude in the office. Instead, he should be humble with all the employees. It shows how good he is in people management skills. According to the data, people who are employed in the organization for a long time, become hypersensitive to the smallest things. These can be related to the privileges they have enjoyed or good connections with powerful people in the firm. Hence, the boss must be supportive and humble while communicating and managing older employees in the organization if he wants to get his work done efficiently well within the deadline. This will portray him as a good inspirational leader.


A good boss is one who is efficient in managing all employees of all ages efficiently and ensuring the projects get completed within the deadline. He demonstrates how to be confident, humble and team-oriented when it comes to managing older employees, and can provide good lessons to employees who have just started their career and are freshers out from the college. Making it clear for the long run gives a clarity to the team and ensures they stick to the path for project commitments.

How can Deskera Assist you?

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Key Takeaways

1. Today, there is a huge workforce of the millenial generation who have the ability to climb the professional ladder fast due to their skills. Hence, many of the young professionals have reached good managerial positions in their respective organisations.

2. The younger boss has to handle employees of all generations in the team and he or she should be very mindful when it comes to managing elder employees. He should not display favouritism or display assumptions in the office.

3. A young boss should learn from the experiences of elder professionals and even assist them in getting integrated with new work methodologies at the workplace. He should arrange for training sessions of the employees so that the elder people in the office get acquainted with various digital channels at the workplace.

4. The leader should not stress on his authorativeness while communicating with the employees in an organization. Moreover, while managing older employees in the team, he should have an empathetic approach towards them as they are struggling to get the right work-life balance apart from doing the job properly.

5. The boss should be supportive and collaborative to the employees when it comes to learning new skills. He should appreciate them for the work done and even encourage the youngsters to learn from the elder professionals as they have a lot of experience under their belt which can act as a guiding light to individuals who have just joined the organization.

6. He should promote frequent and transparent communication amongst the employees so that there are no loopholes in the office work. This ensures that every individual in the team is well-informed about the changes in the project. Also, while managing older employees, the boss should be humble and use a direct call approach while communicating with them.

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