Someone new is moving into the corner office and for current employees, there’s a good chance that person is younger than you.
It’s a scary realization for some, but nevertheless a reflection of how the workforce has changed in recent years as companies become more reliant on younger employees who tend to be cheaper but have the high-tech skills of a more-recent graduate.
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About a third of U.S. workers say their boss is younger than they are and around 15% say they work for someone who is at least 10 years younger, according to a new CareerBuilder survey, highlighting a shift in the correlation between seniority and leadership.
“Age disparities in the office are perhaps more diverse now than they’ve ever been,” said Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. “It’s not uncommon to see 30-year-olds managing 50-year-olds or 65-year-olds mentoring 22-year-olds.”
However, your boss’s age could set the tone and pace of the work environment.
For example, more managers ages 25 to 34 prefer to communicate via email or text than those 55+, who’d rather chat face-to-face or over the phone, CareerBuilder found. Younger bosses also have a different view on employees' career paths, fostering a “seize any opportunity” mindset.
Just 53% of younger bosses feel their workers should stay in a job for at least three years, compared with 62% of the more experienced bosses, who typically look through a more traditional employee-for-life lens. In fact, nearly half of bosses in the 25-34 range think you should only stay in a job until you’ve learned enough to move ahead, compared with just 38% of in the 55+ group.
“While the tenants of successful management are consistent across generations, there are subtle differences in work habits and views,” Haefner said.
Worker hours also contrast among variously-aged bosses, with younger workers more likely to log shorter hours than their older peers. The study found 64% of young workers think it’s normal to work eight or fewer hours a day, compared with just 58% of older workers, who typically clock longer days.
Many of these changes have occurred over the last several years, as companies scale back on headcount, leaving room for younger, less expensive employees. Perhaps even more a catalyst is an influx of startups. Facebook (NYSE:FB), formed in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg in his Harvard dorm room, was taken public by the 28-year old CEO in a $104 billion IPO earlier this year. Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) CEO Larry Page is just 39 and PayPal, now owned by eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY), was co-founded by Peter Thiel at 31. Other companies boasting young CEOs are Groupon (NASDAQ:GRPN) and Zynga (NASDAQ:ZNGA).
While the start-up frenzy became centered around California’s booming tech hub of Silicon Valley, it has since spread all across the nation, with hubs in New York and Washington D.C., the home of daily deals cite LivingSocial, bringing with them a slew of younger executives.