Fostering working relationships in an intergenerational workforce

A grant from the British Academy will fund a research project on understanding intergenerational contact and support in the workplace, as well as the challenges of an ageing workforce for organisations.

Birkbeck has been awarded funding from the British Academy for research into intergenerational work relationships.

The ageing workforce will soon become one of the main challenges facing organisations. This project will examine psychological mechanisms that facilitate successful working relationships between younger and older employees in the workplace. Specifically, it will explore how good relationships, empathy and perspective taking lead employees to be more supportive towards colleagues from different age groups. 

Whilst previous research has examined how good workplace intergenerational relations improve young workers' attitudes and behaviours towards their older co-workers, this research is unusual in that it will also explore older adults' supportive behaviours towards younger colleagues. 

The project will be led by Dr Libby Drury, a lecturer in Organizational Psychology, whose research examines barriers to workplace diversity, including relationships between members of different social groups.

She said: “Understanding how younger and older work colleagues influence each other can provide important knowledge for organisations, such as how to engage employees of different ages and make the most of a diverse workforce.

“The grant also provides us with a great opportunity to build research collaborations with German colleagues and strengthen our European networks.”

The grant, worth just over £15,000, will fund a visiting fellowship to Birkbeck by Dr Ulrike Fasbender, Assistant Professor in the Work and Organizational Psychology Department at Justus-Liebig-University (Giessen, Germany). Dr Fasbender's research interests include diversity management, late-career development and transition to retirement.

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