Older Workers More Likely to Value Diverse Teams

Survey shows consensus that teams of more than six might be too big
A team meeting

While many workplaces tout the value of teamwork, a new survey suggests that not everyone sees collaboration the same way, with differences especially noticeable between younger and older colleagues.

Reflektive, an employee management platform developer, sought to explore workers’ perceptions about collaboration by surveying 1,143 employees at different levels of seniority. They found that teamwork and collaboration mean different things to different generations.

Respondents were overwhelmingly familiar with group collaboration, as more than 81% said they work frequently in teams when on the job. Forty percent of respondents said being on a team motivates them to perform better at work.

However, not everyone shared that sentiment. Workers between the ages of 18 and 24 were 106% more likely than other generations to “strongly disagree” with the statement that being part of a team inspires them to do their best.

While more than half of employees surveyed — 54% — said they preferred to work on diverse teams, younger workers were 21% less likely to prefer working on diverse teams than older workers. In fact, younger workers were 232% more likely to prefer teams comprised of all men and 146% more likely to prefer teams made up of all women.

Meanwhile, men appeared to be more comfortable working on teams than women, as women were twice as likely as men to feel anxious when learning about a new team project.

However, one area that everyone seemed to agree on was that a team should only be so big. More than 90% of respondents said it was difficult to contribute meaningfully to a team that had six or more members.

Respondents also placed a high value on communication, as 74% said effective teams share constructive feedback with each other, and 72% said constructive feedback helps the team achieve business-related goals in a more effective manner.

When plotting a career path it’s a good idea to not only consider salary potential, but also to think about whether the day-to-day expectations of a particular job align with the way you prefer to work. For example, if you really dislike working in groups, you might look for a job that allows you to work remotely so you have less interaction with colleagues. Freelancing might also be a path worth considering for some who would prefer to work independently.

Tamara E. Holmes

Tamara E. Holmes is a Washington, DC-based writer who covers personal finance, entrepreneurship and careers.

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