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Sloan Center News

With Age Comes the Wisdom to Roll with the Punches at Work

4 September 2009—Center of Corporate Citizenship writer Tim Wilson discusses employee engagement in the context of professionals struggling to keep their programs and initiatives alive in tight economy.   

Our report, “The Difference a Downturn Can Make”, explores how economic concerns have affected employees’ workplace experiences and how changes differ by employee age and perception of job security.

"What the researchers found that really piqued my interest," Tim writes, is that members of Generation Y – workers ages 26 and younger – reported the greatest decrease in engagement, while engagement remained virtually unchanged for baby boomers and older (workers older than 43 – otherwise known as my contemporaries). And while employee engagement decreased across all groups and was most significant in the younger age groups, the decrease was almost nonexistent among employees over 53 (my fellow 50-plus boomers who remember watching Apollo 11 land).

"So what gives with those millennials who we’re counting on to carry the corporate citizenship banner into the future? And what happened to the stereotype of jaded curmudgeons just punching the clock?

“Some older workers have seen it all, and that gives them experiential resilience,” Marcie Pitt-Catsouphes, director of the Sloan Center, told Diversity Inc. “Younger workers just don’t have the depth of experience, which leaves them feeling less engaged in their jobs.”

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