Age diversity promotes ill-will between workers in organisations that leads to an unhappy workplace and less productivity, according to a new academic study.
Whereas the conventional diversity management view is that a mix of ages in the workplace is desirable, the new research claims the opposite is true and that same-age workplaces give better results.
Around 8,000 employees at 62 organisations were asked their opinions about age diversity - and the responses were not really what their employers expected or wanted to hear.
The survey revealed age diversity fostered bad feelings climate in the workplace, which led to poor productivity and a high turnover of staff.
Many older workers expressed dissatisfaction when younger employees were promoted over them, while younger workers were frustrated at having to wait to fill ‘dead men’s shoes’ as older colleagues failed to move on.
"The problems associated with increasing age diversity are unlikely to solve themselves," said Florian Kunze of the University of St Gallen, Switzerland, who carried out the study with Jochen Menges of Cambridge University. "They need to receive the same level of attention that is devoted to ethnic diversity or gender diversity, and, unfortunately, that is probably not occurring today in most organisations."
The results were presented to the annual meeting of the Academy of management at San Antonio, Texas.
Kunze and Menges told the meeting: "In age-diverse companies, employees experience more anger, fear, and disgust, and therefore they consider more often changing their jobs and contribute less to the performance of the company as a whole.
"Higher age diversity leads to poorer organisational outcomes, because of its negative influence on the company's affective climate. The benefits of differing expertise, experience and perspectives typically associated with diversity are not likely to unfold. The exuberant expression of emotions in upbeat organisations may work for same-age people, but it does not resonate well in age-diverse organisations."
Article from Diversity Leaders