Mature employees feel less emotional strain when working directly with people

The ability to regulate one's emotions improves significantly with age. We can better regulate our emotions, read other people's emotions, and understand their character and personality type. The older we get, the quicker we can sense other people. We require less information to understand others and communicate with them. We quickly find common ground.

— Prof. Dr. B. Goštautaitė

This is why we have observed, and studies show that the teams with mature people are more attuned to each other," Prof. Dr. Bernadeta Goštautaitė said. This ability, combined with responsible decision-making and the realisation that the time left for an active working life is limited, enables older people to manage conflicts more effectively. "This quality is particularly valuable when working directly with people. This type of work requires a high level of emotional involvement, including the ability to regulate one's own emotions as well as recognise the emotions of others, for example, what kind of mood the client is in today, what should be said to them, what should be avoided, and how to respond to their comments," Bernadeta Goštautaitė explained. As a result, she claims, working directly with people is known to be stressful, leading to burnout and mental health deterioration.

"Job satisfaction decreases as emotional well-being declines, so young people do not last long in jobs that require a lot of direct work with clients. Meanwhile, mature people, who, as previously stated, do not experience such a high emotional strain when working directly with clients and are not particularly negatively affected. "Research in my bank's sector confirms that older people in customer service positions can maintain job satisfaction," the researcher said. According to Ms Goštautaitė, this is why younger people in these positions can learn a lot from their longer-serving colleagues: how to communicate with customers, forestall conflicts, and resolve them. 

Mature employees bring stability to teams

 "The results of our other research show that older teachers are good at getting to know children and interacting with them, thanks to their ability to regulate their own and recognise other people's emotions. Younger teachers can learn this from older ones. Meanwhile, the older teachers can gain some drive and belief that the future is infinite from the younger ones. Although it is impossible to learn this objectively – you know how many years you have left on the job, whether it is 40 or 5 – older teachers say that when they work with young people, they feel they have many plans every day and for the future. Of course, they do not exactly learn that, but it is a different feeling in that environment", Ms Goštautaitė said.

"While younger employees bring a broader perspective and a more optimistic outlook on the future, mature colleagues provide team stability."

"Mature employees are less likely to change jobs, not only because they have fewer opportunities, but also because they are less likely to look for something new and feel attached to their current team. Another significant factor is job satisfaction. It is likely that mature people have already found a job that they enjoy and that is meaningful to them. It doesn't matter what is meaningful to them - making money, contributing to global well-being, protecting the environment, etc. - the point is that what I do is meaningful to me," Ms Goštautaitė indicated. 

The role of the leader is vital in age-diverse teams 

According to the professor, the stability of a team also largely depends on how the leader manages it. "Working with an age-diverse team means working with different people. The person's age itself means nothing; it has an impact only because people of different ages tend to have different competences and attitudes towards life and future. Working with an age-diverse team means working with people who are very different from one another. This is difficult and, in the worst-case scenario, results in intense emotional conflicts. A team cannot be stable unless these emotional conflicts are managed," the professor said.
"One side of the conflict may be purely emotional, while the other side could be creative. New thoughts and ideas are likely to emerge if time is taken to resolve the conflict. Creative solutions are born through discussion, making an effort to understand another point of view, and inspiration - hearing about things you would never have thought of yourself," Prof. Dr. Bernadeta Goštautaitė said. She pointed out that not all situations, teams or companies require creative solutions: "In manufacturing, for example, where efficiency and routine work are the most important, creativity is not needed. So, there are limits to when and where age diversity can be beneficial." 

Wherever creativity is needed, the leader's role is critical, and the manager's primary responsibility is to ensure inclusivity. “It is up to the leader to manage disagreements within the team that arise because of age, and, accordingly, experience and attitudes, in a way that turns them into a productive discussion. Is it psychologically safe for everyone to express their views on various issues in teams where inclusivity is critical? If this is the case, these teams will win because more diverse viewpoints lead to more diverse solutions," Bernadeta Goštautaitė explained. 

In inclusive teams, younger people learn from mature people and vice versa

Inclusion is also essential for team members to learn from each other - the younger from the mature and vice versa. "If we see every situation as an opportunity to learn, whether from a man, a woman, an expatriate, a younger or mature person, we discover experiences, differences, such as different opinions in the team as a source of knowledge.

"Willingness to learn is also driven by personal experience."

For example, during the pandemic, older people learnt technological skills from their younger colleagues. "You could say that the entire educational system has survived due to collaboration between generations," Ms. Goštautaitė said.

Indrė Sakalauskienė, Head of Human Resources at Danske Bank Lithuania, confirms that teams with people of different age who work together and find common solutions win.

Almost every tenth employee in Danske Bank Lithuania is over 40 years old. We aim to increase their number because we’ve seen how age-diverse teams can collaborate successfully on everyday tasks, developing new solutions and discussing emerging issues. The international experience, with an average age of 43 years across the Danske Group, gives us the knowledge and practice to manage and use the potential of age-diverse teams as effectively as possible.

— Indrė Sakalauskienė