Just Pick Up the Phone, Please!


A recent CareerBuilder survey has some interesting numbers related to generational differences in the workplace. It focuses on communication and work styles, hours on task and career paths.

The one (of several) that jumps out for me is the fact that no one — no matter their age — wants to use the telephone anymore. As some of my co-workers can attest, this really bothers me. When a 30-second direct conversation (preferably in person but the phone will suffice in many instances) can replace many, many e-mails, why do people insist on hiding behind the keyboard?

There was the time I banned my team from using e-mail at all for internal communications. Maybe a bit extreme, but the point is valid — talk to/with people, not at them.

Anyway, here are the survey results. Some are revealing, while others confirm common perceptions.

Communication Styles

While a majority of both age groups expressed a preference for face-to-face communication, evidence of a small digital divide exists. The phone, however, has fallen out of favor across the board.

How do you most like to communicate at work?

· Face-to-face: 60 percent (ages 55+); 55 percent (ages 25-34)

· E-mail/Text: 28 percent (ages 55+); 35 percent (ages 25-34)

· Phone: 12 percent (ages 55+); 10 percent (ages 25-34)

Perspectives on Career Path

Younger workers tend to view a career path with a “seize any opportunity” mindset, while older workers are more likely to place value in loyalty and putting in the years before advancement.

You should stay in a job for at least three years:

· Ages 25-34 – 53 percent
· Ages 55+ – 62 percent
 

You should stay in a job until you learn enough to move ahead:

· 25-34 – 47 percent
· Ages 55+ – 38 percent

Similar contrasts were found when looking at promotions:

You should be promoted every 2-3 years if you’re doing a good job:

· Ages 25-34 – 61 percent
· Ages 55+ – 43 percent
 

Hours Working

Younger workers are more likely to log shorter hours than workers 55 and older.

Work eight hours or less per day:

· Ages 25-34 – 64 percent
· Ages 55+ – 58 percent

Older hiring managers are more likely to arrive to work earlier than younger managers but less likely to take work home with them.

Arrive earlier than 8 a.m.:

· Ages 25-34 – 43 percent
· Ages 55+ – 53 percent

Leave by 5:00 p.m.:

· Ages 25-34 – 38 percent
· Ages 55+ – 41 percent
 

Work after leaving the office:

· Ages 25-34 – 69 percent
· Ages 55+ – 62 percent
 

Younger workers are more open to flexible work schedules than their older counterparts.
Arriving on time doesn’t matter as long as work gets done:

· Ages 25-34 – 29 percent

· Ages 55+ – 20 percent

Work Styles

Different generations take a much more distinct approach to workplace projects. Younger generations are more likely to want to plan rather than “dive right in” to a new initiative.

I like to skip the process and dive right into executing:

· Ages 25-34 – 52 percent
· Ages 55+ – 66 percent

I like to write out a detailed game plan before acting:

· Ages 25-34 – 48 percent
· Ages 55+ – 35 percent
 

However, there is one area where older and younger workers see eye-to-eye: Approximately 60 percent of both groups prefer eating alone during lunch hour, as opposed to dining with their co-workers.