SUBSCRIBE: Newsletter

Human Resources



Does the age of your boss matter?

Human Resources magazine and the HR Bulletin daily email newsletter:
Asia's only regional HR print and digital media brand.
Register for your FREE subscription now »


Boomers and Millennials – does the age of your boss matter? A new survey from staffing firm OfficeTeam suggests it doesn’t. Including responses from more than a thousand people in the US working in office environments, “more than eight in 10 professionals (82%) polled said they would be comfortable reporting to a manager who’s younger than they are and 91% wouldn’t mind supervising employees older than themselves”, recruiting firm Robert Half, the parent company of Office team, said in a statement.

However, working across generations comes with its challenges. Those include dissimilar work ethics or values (26%) and leadership or learning styles (22%) as the biggest challenges with having a younger boss according to the survey. On the opposite side of the spectrum, those managing someone older reported using technology in different ways (25%) as their top struggle.

“In today’s multigenerational workplace, it’s not uncommon for employees to report to a younger supervisor. Leaders are chosen based on their performance and management ability, not the year they were born,” said Brandi Britton, a district president for OfficeTeam.

“While our research shows many professionals are embracing collaboration across age groups, preconceptions can hinder progress. Efforts need to be made to get past stereotypes and build connections.”

Bridgette_12_10_17_infographic_Age of the boss_Robert Half

According to the survey, it is the baby boomers (workers that are 55 and older) who had the least qualms with age – 93% said they were comfortable with having a younger boss and 95% were happy managing someone older than themselves. While 28% of baby boomers said that they had no challenges in reporting to someone younger and 37% managing someone older.

Meanwhile, millennials (workers between 18-34) were the keenest to move into management with nine out of 10 employees responding that they had no problem with supervising someone older.

Britton added: “Organisations benefit when people of various backgrounds bring unique perspectives to the table. Workers can share their knowledge or pick up new skills through mentoring or reverse mentoring.”

ALSO READ:  Age-inclusive norms: Your guide to creating an inclusive workplace

HR Masterclass Series: We're going virtual! New courses, new formats!
Review the 2020 masterclasses here »

Read More News