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Reinventing the Workplace:
An Intergenerational Challenge

Suzanne Braun Levine
Encore.org

One of the most persistent and misguided assumptions about the relationship of younger and older workers is that they are adversaries – competing for the same jobs and incompatible in work habits. This presumption of intergenerational hostility ignores the productive synergy that happens when their skills and work styles mix and energy meets experience, technological fluency meets accumulated people skills, ambition meets not sweating the small stuff.

It also obscures an important issue that concerns both groups – making the workplace more responsive to the work/life balancing act that bedevils old and young alike, albeit in different ways.

Trying to manage a family while holding a job emerged as an issue back in the ‘70s. As women entered the workforce in waves, they were challenged by real and imagined conflicts over the two spheres of responsibility that they, unlike men at the time, were caught up in. By the end of the century, as more men were committed to shared parenting, they found themselves in the same no-win situation. The more engaged they become in their children’s lives, the more obstacles they encountered – from rigid hours to scorn from other men.

Today, most parents are on the same page, and they want to challenge the status quo by pushing for family-friendly practices such as flex-time and shared or part-time jobs. (There is a lot of pushing to do) we are still the only industrialized country that doesn’t provide such benefits as paid family leave or tax breaks for caregivers.) Read More…


 

Encore.org – second acts for the greater good – is building a movement to tap the skills and experience of those in midlife and beyond to improve communities and the world.

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