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The Generational War in the Workforce

Generational conflicts between the young and the old(er) are nothing new. Right now, there’s another one going on, and this one is taking place in the American workforce, with the pandemic as a backdrop.

Already, it’s bringing lasting changes to how America works, with some clear winners and losers.

The Nature of the Conflict

The clash is over returning to the office as we move past the pandemic.

When the pandemic struck, remote work was a lifeline for businesses that otherwise would have failed, and for workers who otherwise would have faced unemployment and financial hardship.

To management, there was the expectation that as restrictions eased and the pandemic abated, everyone would return to the traditional office work model. Many workers realized they wanted no part of going back to that, though. While working from home, they found they were just as productive, had more control over their schedules, and enjoyed a better quality of life.

This conflict over returning to the office is largely developing along generational contours. Executives and managers, who tend to be older, feel very strongly that it’s time to go back. Younger members of the workforce feel just as strongly that it’s not.

And the younger generations are winning.

Winners and Losers

To be sure, some managers are getting their way, but the overall trends are favoring the workers who want remote or hybrid work models as an option. Several things are driving this:

  • Right now, businesses are in desperate need of employees.

  • Many workers are resigning and taking positions with companies that are more flexible.

  • Younger workers’ numbers are growing as older workers age out of the workforce.

  • Proactive businesses are adapting so that they will attract the best talent.

There are no signs of these trends abating anytime soon.

Bridging Gaps and Building a Better Workforce Through Mentoring

Despite all the benefits of remote work, there’s a clear drawback that people on both sides of the divide recognize: a dropoff in networking and other types of collaboration, including the invaluable experience younger workers gain while working with older colleagues.

Mentorship is an effective way to address that drawback and improve work culture at the same time, and it’s compatible with both in-person and remote approaches. We’ve taken the time to create a guide that goes deeper into this generational conflict and how mentorship can help.


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