What’s causing intergenerational conflict?

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Differing expectations between generations is causing problems for employers, new research has shown.

According to experts from Robert Walters, millennials want international career opportunities, investment in technology and rapid career progression.

The company – which operates globally – surveyed 1,400 professionals, hiring managers and employers around New Zealand and Australia to investigate the habits and motivations of millennial workers.

James Nicholson, managing director of Robert Walters Australia and New Zealand, said the research highlighted the importance of understanding what motivated young employees.

“Having grown up in a largely borderless-world created by the internet and more accessible overseas travel, Millennials also have ambitious career goals and high expectations of rapid career progression and international opportunities,” he said.

The study found that a massive 86% of millennials thought employers should offer international career opportunities. An even bigger majority – 96% – said that technology was extremely important to their work.

Half of the millennials surveyed said they would consider leaving their job if the employer did not invest in technology, while a quarter said that reluctance to adopt new technologies was the biggest source of intergenerational conflict.

Fifty-three per cent claimed to have experienced conflict between different generations in their workplace.

Robert Walters’ Auckland director James Dalrymple said that having various expectations in one workplace often led to conflicts, with 80% of hiring managers saying they believed this was because of the younger generation’s expectations of rapid career progression.

However, Dalrymple said that this was not a new trend.

“I think that intergenerational conflict has always been around in the workplace, if you go back 30 years ago and you're talking to a 50 year old that works with a 25 year old they probably have similar complaints,” he said.

“Having ambitious and driven employees that want to grow their career isn't a bad thing at all.

“A lot of that is down to employers to harness that, and make sure they're giving people opportunities and getting the most out of them while they are in their business.”

He added that the results highlighted that intergenerational issues were common in the workplaces and it was up to employers to understand these differences and understand what motivated individual employees to help deal with this.

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