Older, wiser and more productive? New study

A new Europe-wide study sheds light on intergenerational experiences of workload, stress and resilience, suggesting older workers fair best on the three measures.

Older, wiser and more productive
The Wrike Digital Work Report asked for the opinions of 3,000 office workers in the UK, France and Germany to compare working habits. As well as monitoring differences in place, the work management and collaboration platform’s study looked at attitudes and experiences from respondents by age, ranging from 18- to 24-year-olds, to Millennials (25–34) through to those aged 55 and over.

Managing rising workloads

Key findings include work demands have increased in all three locations in the past year. The UK saw the largest variances between age groups in this respect. Over that period, 71 per cent of UK Millennials said individual workloads had risen, compared to just 42 per cent who said so from the oldest age bracket.In France and Germany it was more consistent across the board, ranging from 74 per cent among Millennials and 65 per cent among the over 55s in Germany, and 80 per cent and 69 per cent respectively in France.The study also at the impact of rising workloads on individuals and the generational aspect to coping with this. Feeling more stressed was particularly felt among Millennials, with 69 per cent citing that as the biggest change because of  extra expectations, compared to 54 per cent among the over 55s.

Impact of workload on health

In a finding that should ring alarm bells for employers, a quarter of UK Millennials said they’ve taken more days off sick because of workload stress, compared to 13 per cent among those 55 and over.Moreover, 14 per cent of UK Millennials said they smoked more, compared to just three per cent of over 55s. In France, almost a third (29%) of Millennials said they smoked more because of the extra demands placed on them over the last year.Close to half (43%) of UK Millennials participating in the Wrike Digital Work Report believe their line manager expects them to work longer hours. This compares to a quarter of over 55s. A fifth of Millennials also think their manager expects them to take fewer holidays, compared to just three per cent of over 55s.

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More adept at workload management

One reason why the older workforce seems better at dealing with workload may be because they are more task-focused. A third of over-55s in the UK estimate they operate at over 90 per cent productivity levels while at work, compared to just eight per cent of Millennials who say they work at that highest level, observes the study.At a time when the UK government has launched a new strategy to help more over-50s stay in work longer and business are being called on to increase the numbers in this age group in their workforce, the study suggests it also happears many UK businesses are turning to technology to address some of these disparities. The report revealed 55 per cent of UK Millennials said the number of apps used at work has risen over the last year. This the study suggests is having a positive effect: 59 per cent of Millennials said the adoption of digital tools has had a positive impact on their organisation.Among the over 55s, 40 per cent said the number of work apps had risen in that time, with just over half (51%) saying they felt digitisation was a good thing.

Wisdom in a data age

Andrew Filev, founder and CEO of Wrike, commented: “The latest findings of the report has thrown up some interesting and perhaps unexpected findings when it comes to how different ages are coping with extra demands being asked of them.“Years of experience, and the extra wisdom that brings, certainly plays a part, but also a better sense of priority and focus appears to play a big part in why older generations are coping better with those.“It also shows that the older generation is not a generation of luddites. In fact, far from it,” he added. “Finding the right digital tools can help individuals and teams to work more efficiently, and in the majority of cases the benefits of adopting them is being recognised across all ages in the UK workplace.”

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