Age Is Not Just a Number

Ageism in the workplace is as much a diversity concern as other issues. It goes both ways. Younger and older employees may feel disrespected or devalued because of the age bracket they fit in. Older workers may feel they are treated like they are irrelevant. Younger workers may feel as if they are not taken seriously. 

Some statistics about ageism in the nation’s workplace:

  • Only 50% of people aged 55-64 are working, accounting for 20% of the workforce.  
  • In the last 25 years, the number of employees 55 and older has doubled due to Baby Boomers getting older.
  • Only 10% of employees are aged 65-69. 
  • Employees 25 and younger experience age discrimination two times less often than employees 55 and older.
  • Studies show that employees 50 years and older are the most engaged and experienced employees.
  • People are three times more likely to prefer bosses who are in their 30s.

All good employees have value to add, despite their age. Each age bracket has distinct characteristics that strengthen their value in the workplace. Younger people can offer fresh perspectives and new energy. Older workers can provide guidance to hone their efforts to achieve the best proven results. A wise mixture of the talent, perspectives, experience, and education of employees can produce a dynamic multigenerational team.

Some of the recognized advantages of switching to multigenerational teams at a manufacturing company included:

  • Finding innovative and creative solutions improved by 63%.
  • Productivity improved by 62%.
  • Employees’ satisfaction score for the employer increased by 44%.
  • Positioning among competitors improved by 44%.
  • Employer met customers’ expectations 42% more often.
  • The age distribution of employees and the community improved by 36%.
  • The employer responded to employees’ expectations 34% more often.
  • The company’s external reputation improved by 21%.
  • The employer met legal requirements 17% more often.

 The key is understanding and respecting the values and preferences of each generation. Successful multigenerational teams learn how to adapt to relate well to other generations.

Values and motivations by generation:

Baby Boom Generation (Born 1946-1964)

Generations X and Y (Born 1965-2000)

  • Value hard work.
  • Less concerned about work-life balance.
  • Value creative freedom.
  • Prefer working in their own way and on their own time.
  • Prefer leaders who are coaches (facilitation rather than dictatorship).
  • Value creative freedom.
  • Prefer working in their own way and on their own time.
  • Value in-person communication (meetings and phone calls).
  • Prefer convenience and efficiency (social media, text messages, and emails).
  • Motivated by the ideas of influence, authority, competition, and personal achievement.
  • Motivated by career progression and being rewarded for good performance.


Multigenerational teams have diverse ways of feeling appreciated, respected, and valued. Recognizing and responding effectively to these differences shows that you realize that age is not just a number. Younger people may want to incorporate the latest technology and trends into the workplace and try new more robust processes. Older workers want to be valued for their understanding, experience, knowledge of the industry, and what works best for their audiences and customers. Interacting with employees based on these values and motivations provides numerous benefits for employers and increased job satisfaction for employees. 


“Some people say they have 20-years’ experience, when in reality, they have 1 years’ experience repeated 20 times.”

  • Stephen M. R. Covey



The Cold, Hard Truth About Ageism in the Workplace

U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, January 2021 Employed Persons by Detailed Industry and Age

Benefits of a Multigenerational Workforce | Department of Aging (


By Paulette Tiggs