With 401(k)s and pensions in the tank, more and more people will find it necessary to work well into what once would have been their golden retirement years. As a result, small-business owners may find they are employing a larger number of graying workers.
For those business owners who find they are managing staff much older than themselves, here are nine tips to help manage wisely.
Walk a Mile in Their Shoes
Older employees are often juggling complicated lives -- taking care of children and elderly parents. They, unlike Gen X'ers and Gen Y'ers, are also confronting for the first time the possibility that they may never really retire, says Keren Smedley, co-author of Age Matters: Employing, Motivating and Managing Older Employees. And now that companies are shedding jobs, these workers may fear they'll be pushed out for younger, cheaper labor.
Small business owners should be sensitive to these fears and find out what their older employees' situations are before tackling job-performance issues.
Each generation has its own code of conduct, its own rules about manners. Be aware that for some older workers, being polite keeps things running smoothly. That could also mean popping your head into their office or cubicle instead of sending an email, says Casey Hawley, author of Managing the Older Employee: Overcoming the Generation Gap to Get the Most Out of Your Workplace. "Older workers miss relational things like eye contact." Building that communication network can forestall any age resentment.