Technology and its Affect on the Generation Gap

Boomers & GenXers make up a large group of workers, who are all officially “Over 40”.  While many Boomers are now in retirement or within 10 years of retirement, there are still 40 million hard at work.  53 million Gen Xers are active in the workforce and many are at the peak of their careers. Although these two groups combined makeup over 90 million, there is one big thing that separates them: Technology.

When baby boomers entered the workforce, technology was limited to a phone, a typewriter and maybe an intercom.  It wasn’t until the mid to late 70’s that computers began making an appearance in the workplace.  In the rare instance that a microcomputer would make an appearance on a desk, it was usually for a specialized set of tasks and only one or two employees would have the skills to operate it.  Baby boomers spent the majority of their careers pushing paper and manually organizing files.  They didn’t have to learn new technology because there weren’t many professions that required the use of it. In the 1980s personal computers started to become more common in the workplace.  Soon after in the 1990s, the internet & laptop computers became more readily available and baby boomers experienced some pretty serious shifts in their professional world.  

When the Gen Xers began entering the workforce, computers were already on every desk, the internet was already a “thing” and the first cell phones were already hitting the market so basically, they had a step up in the world of technology from the get-go. 

Fast forward 20 years and today, we know that technology has risen to a level that even the most technologically savvy will admit is hard to keep up with. With the introduction of smart phones, ipads, cloud-based software programs, social media platforms and AI, older workers are finding it harder and harder to stay current with the latest technology upgrades.  It is the #1 factor that prevents older workers from obtaining new employment, especially jobs that require a high level of knowledge in technology.  

The generation gap became even larger in the early 2000’s when Millennials began entering the workforce. These are workers who were born into a world of technology and were raised with smart phones and computers as part of their everyday life.  

We are now witnessing nearly 50-year age gap between new workers and experienced workers. According to Thursday report from CompTIA, Because of the gap in age, the generations don’t experience or view the workplace in the same manner either, said the release. Nearly two-thirds of Baby Boomers don’t see younger workers as loyal, and six in 10 said “younger workers act more entitled”. Half of Millennials believed older workers are too rigid and set in their ways, added the report. And nearly half of Gen X workers said older employees are not as technologically-skilled.

This generation gap has become a bit of a challenge for employers as well.  As businesses try to stay current in their technological advancements to stay competitive or to increase efficiencies, they may also be limiting their potential workforce. 

Technology providers may be the answer to this issue. As Technology is getting more advanced, it is becoming easier for the end user to operate. process automation is doing a lot of the thinking for us, allowing the workforce to focus on their work instead of the hurdle of operating technology.