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Generational Discord Impacts Business Productivity

New research from the London School of Economics demonstrates that collaboration issues between managers and employees across generations negatively impacted output. By surveying 1,450 employees in finance, technology, and professional services industries in the U.K. and U.S., researchers learned that generational friction drives down productivity. Thirty-seven percent of Gen Z, 30% of Millennials, 22% of Gen X, and 14% of Baby Boomers reported low levels of productivity at work.

Where there are more significant age gaps between managers and employees, those employees report the lowest productivity. Employees supervised by managers at least 12 years older report low productivity at nearly 1.5 times the rate of other employees. Some executives struggle with the different approaches to work held by younger employees. In a Fortune poll, four out of five bosses complained that Gen Z workers lacked soft skills. On the other hand, Gen Z employees believe managers need to do the work to find solutions to the generational disparities in their work perspectives.

When asked, each generation agreed that the three most important skills linked to productivity and career advancement are active listening, time management, and judgment and decision-making. Organizations creating intergenerational inclusive work practices saw higher productivity rates among younger generations. These practices include welcoming everyone's voice when collaborating and advancing employees based on merit, irrespective of age. In addition, these employers focus on making it easier for each generation to “fit in” and support managers in developing skills for working with different generations. For these organizations, 87% of employees reported high productivity levels compared to 58% at places without these practices. Implementing these practices also leads to higher employee retention rates.