Technology has brought many wonders in our life, but not everyone sees it that way. There are generations of people who grew up alongside it, and there are those who find it hard to comprehend. The generation gap, as so-called, can affect how people deal with technology and other issues seen in society.
Whether we like it or not, we cannot let everyone appreciate the power of technology. However, some are forced to use it, as it has become part of our life. Nowadays, we use technology to pay bills online, call our loved ones, and it has become a norm inside the workplace.
So, how can technology affect the generation gap? Are there ways to bridge this gap, particularly in the workplace? But first, what is the generation gap?
WHAT IS GENERATION GAP?
Today, four living generations are currently being studied and compared, the Baby Boomer (born in 1944-1964), Gen X (born in 1965 to 1979), Gen Y or commonly known as Millennials (1980 to 1994), and Gen Z (1995 to 2015). Although some generations are still alive earlier than in 1944, and there are also younger generations than Gen Z. But we will only consider the four generations mentioned, as they are the currently employed and use technology in the workplace
The generation gap is a detachment between members of different generations. The differences of these generations are caused by a conflict or complication in communications; hence, it created a gap between these generations.
Aside from the different ideas, practices, age, and behavior of these generations, technology became a crucial part of these differences. There are generations who grew up with technology, making this easier and more opportunities to try. Meanwhile, some generations aren’t able to experience technology at an early age, and it takes time for them to understand how to use it.
TECHNOLOGY AND THE GAP BETWEEN GENERATIONS
The difference in the ages of people has an impact on the use of technology. Although let’s be clear here first, older adults have known and experienced technology way back then, but the technology they use differ from what we know.
In today’s time, most of our technologies are geared towards mobile devices, gadgets, artificial intelligence, software, apps, and the internet. These forms of technologies are new or foreign to some generations, which causes a gap.
Since, more workplace, and particularly in this pandemic we are in, technology has become an essential part of every business or workplace. Without technology, it’s hard to work, manage a team remotely, create more jobs, finish work faster, and a lot more.
Technology is an integral part of a workplace, and even anywhere you go. But the way it is handled or used depends on the age gap.
A study by Pew Research shows that 92% of Millennials own a smartphone, while Gen X and Baby Boomers who own a smartphone are 85% and 67%, respectively. It’s seen that younger generations tend to use a smartphone more.
Younger generations use their gadgets differently from older ages. Smartphones for Millennials and Gen Z are used for scrolling through social media, texting or chatting, internet or online activities, online shopping, playing games, listening to music, and watching or streaming. For older generations, their smartphones are mostly used for calling and occasional messaging.
Although Gen X and Boomers subscribe to home broadband and are connected to the internet, they prefer using larger devices than Millennials and Gen Z. That’s why they own more desktops and tablets, as compared to younger generations who prefer to have it all in their mobile devices.
Desktops, tablets, and smartphones all have their advantages over one another, but when it comes to the age gap, people prefer one from the other because of its handiness and size.
Looking at the statistics and different preferences, it shows that technology can create a gap between generations. Older people prefer to use their mobile devices for calling and their desktop for social media (particularly Facebook), reading emails, and browsing through the news section. Meanwhile, the younger group uses this technology and other apps for work and leisure purposes.
Furthermore, the younger age group is more open to learning new or the latest trends, which can also be beneficial to the workplace.
THE GAP IT CREATES IN THE WORKPLACE
We have moved forward to more advanced practices in the workplace. Businesses, companies, and small or large enterprises all have adapted or are slowly adapting to the use of workplace technology.
Cloud computing, data storage, communication in real-time, management software, and more are a few of the technologies we are currently using. To Millennials and Gen Z, these technologies are exciting, and they adapt to the use of them as they are open to learning new skills, new technologies, and practices.
In addition, for younger generations, technology helps create remote employment, which is suitable for their current lifestyle.
For older generations, technology sort of becomes a bit nuisance to them. As they are required to learn more and put more effort into learning a new skill. Sometimes, some older folks aren’t open to these changes, which can cause them to either lose their job or left behind.
Moreover, it creates a distance between the younger and older generations, as young folks think that older generations are rigid, and most are not open to changes that could affect the workflow. Meanwhile, 59% of Boomers and 57% of Gen X think that younger generations are entitled.
These stereotypes can cause a gap in the workplace and between workers.
BRIDGING THE GAP
Despite all these misunderstandings and stereotypes created by technology, there is a way to bridge the gap between generations and create a safe and good working environment. If technology is the culprit of this gap, it is also the solution to the problem.
How can technology bridge the gap between generations and in the workplace? Here’s what technology can do.
When moving your business to a more technological environment, you should consider your employees and how they can adapt to these changes.
There are technologies that can help guide you in training your employees. You can use artificial intelligence to guide your employees when using new technology or app. But not everyone is comfortable with this technology, so you can conduct interactive training when needed.
It is also vital to inform or educate your employees regarding the benefits of shifting or moving to a tech-friendly workspace. Giving them an idea of what they can get from using such technologies will remove the negative perception. You can list the benefits they can get from using this newly added tech.
All employees, regardless of age, will benefit from the use of technology in the workplace. They will become more productive and happier. As a result, you get faster and better outcomes.
Technology is not only designed for the younger generations. It Is created to also bring ease and comfort to Baby Boomers and Gen X. With the right tech, proper training, and open-mindedness, the so-called generation gap can be bridged. And, issues will be solved, leading to a better work environment.