The influence of multigenerational conflict

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The Existence of Conflict Between Multi generational Employees in the Workplace

  1. Introduction

1.1              Background

Younger generations of workers continue to enter the workplace and recent up and coming generations have become the mainstay of enterprise development. However, Fallon’s survey (Fallon, 2014) of multigenerational workforces discovered that in a world of globalisation and ever-increasing levels of information, there are vast differences between young employees and older employees in terms of multiple aspects such as lifestyle and the level of education. As result, younger and older staffs may find it difficult or almost impossible to coordinate their conflict. Handling the conflict between young and older employees that this difficulty in aligning working styles could cause is therefore key to enterprise development.

 

According to Peeters and van Emmerik (Peeters & Emmerik, 2008), if a company wishes to promote better growth and innovation to continually recruit new employees, then the organisation`s capacity and the adaptability of its older employees need to be strengthened. However, James, Swanberg, and McKechnie’s research (James, Swanberg and McKechnie 2007) suggested that there would inevitably be conflicts between old and new employees. This is because, in order to protect their interests, older employees are more likely to combine to form a group to exclude newcomers. These conflicts between young and old employees can have an extremely negative impact on an enterprise, causing challenges such as the loss of talent or slow growth due to a loss of knowledge and experience.

A great deal of research has been done on the conflict between older and younger employees and its influence on the organisations and individuals involved. However, some of the results of such research may be outdated to some extent because of changes to the business environment over time. This research project will devise and suggest some reasonable and feasible measures based on an analysis of previous literature to help alleviate the conflict between older and younger employees.

 

1.2              Aim

This research proposal aims to investigate the conflicts between multigenerational employees in the workplace and discover how to solve the issues that arise when such conflict breaks out.

 

1.3              Objectives

  1. To identify the sources of conflict between younger and older staff in the workplace.
  2. To examine the influence on the workplace of conflict between multigenerational employees.
  3. To explore reasonable measures that could be utilised by a workplace with both older and younger employees to alleviate such conflict.

 

  1. Literature review

2.1   Discovering the conflict

Issues arising from the conflict between older and younger employees in workplace have led to a series of crucial discussions among the professions, organizations, and individuals involved in this problem; in particular, it is a dilemma which HR must face on a regular basis (Maheshwari and Shreeharsha, 2015). In the broadest view, according to Edmonson and Harris’s ideas (2013), conflict is that social psychological phenomena created when certain workgroups or individuals cause difficulties for other workgroups or individuals in an attempt to satisfy their own needs. Generally, as stated by Kinley and Ben-Hur (2015), older employees are typified by loyalty and abundant work experience; and they are also more acquainted with the business, technological capacity, and human resource of the company; these characteristics mean that many of this type of worker occupy some key positions in the company. However, a lack of creativity can be a big problem among older employees. Conversely, new employees seem to have more enthusiasm for their work and they are more likely to attempt new things or to adopt new technology than older employees (Kinley and Ben-Hur, 2015). However, younger employees also have their own limitations such as a lack of understanding about the business of company and less well-developed relationships among colleagues; the possibility of them having lower loyalty to the company is also increased (Kinley and Ben-Hur, 2015). As a consequence of these differences between older and younger employees, conflict is almost inevitable.

 

2.2   The influence of multigenerational conflict

The conflict between older and younger employees’ manifests in many different forms and a range of severity, but it is widespread in many different kinds of enterprises (Raines, 2013). In general, these can be divided into two types of conflict, constructive conflict and destructive conflict, determined by the nature of the causes and events within the conflict (Gonçalves, 2008). Constructive conflict appears to be beneficial to the development of the enterprise; this effect shows in the generation of more creative ideas and the enhancement of the vitality of the enterprise; it can also promote good management within the organisation (Gonçalves, 2008). In contrast, destructive conflict tends to damage the development of the enterprise. Destructive conflict effectively blocks the delivery and sharing of knowledge. An example of this occurs when experienced employees develop a set of methods and procedures based on skills within their peer group; in cases where this is not documented, young employees may not be able to utilise previous system development work because of destructive conflict. As a result, the efficiency of the enterprise will be impaired.

 

2.3   Solving the conflict

Based on the seeming inevitability of such conflict, it appears to be a vital task to find some reasonable measures that could be utilized by organizations with mixed-age workforces to alleviate the consequences of such conflict. Firstly, an integrated and fair regulatory framework tends to be a good initial approach to reducing the conflict at a fundamental level. Overall, psychological imbalances and perceived injustice are the two factors that generally contribute most to the conflict; one effective way to settle these issues is for everything to come under the control of a set of regulations and rules (McCafferty, 2015). Furthermore, Tjosvold (2015) suggested that a positive and harmonious organizational culture appears decreasing the potential for conflict among multigenerational employees. Generally, the relationship between older and younger employees is likely to be friendlier in the company which creates a favourable company culture and concentrates on teamwork, cooperation, and collective benefits (Tjosvold, 2015).

 

  1. Methodology 

In an effort to determine whether conflict between older and younger employees happens in everyday life, and to examine how companies are developing their policies to promote a more harmonious work environment, interviews will be conducted with employees who may be facing conflict. Examples of suitable subjects would include older employees or young persons within the first few months of work. These subjects provide access to first-hand knowledge about intergenerational work conflict, and a qualitative research method will be used to elicit this. Data will be collected by carrying out one-to-one interviews with relevant employees. There are two reasons for this approach:

 

  1. The researchers have no experience working in a company, so the project’s underlying assumptions about the situation between older and younger employees are limited and theoretical. 

 

  1. This method of study enables a deeper understanding of the situation and should help suggest solutions for companies to address the issue of conflict between older and younger employees.

 

To meet the study’s objectives, the research will focus on thirty target employees. Fifteen of these are young and others are older, enabling contrasting attitudes to be compared. Both sets of subjects will be invited to take part in one-on-one interviews to obtain the necessary data. Participants who may have conflict with others will be chosen by random sampling within a single company. Due to the sensitive nature of the question and the fact that employees cannot sit together for the interviews, potential participants should answer the questions online or take part in a one-to-one interview with a researcher. The interviews will aim to discover what the interviewees know about conflict between employees in the company and how they think the company’s policies have affected the situation, both positively and negatively. Ideally, the researchers would interview the company’s HR department in addition to the one-to-one interviews, in order to gain more information about the company’s policies. It is also important that the employees feel comfortable being interviewed.

 

Secondary data will be derived from the UK CIPD website, in particular the survey report “Managing the age-diverse workforce: employer and employee views” (CIPD, 2015). This will be subject to template analysis to analyse the situation and to explore what reasonable measures can be used to deal with it. The secondary data will be useful in order to support the primary data collection work, in particular the analysis of the situation; and, based on the combination of data, a more rounded conclusion can be reached.

  1. Ethical issues   

This research proposal aims to explore the conflict between the young employees and the elder employees in work place. In terms of the ethical consideration, the entire situation will be explained to the participator before the interview; all the questions will not involved personal attacks, such as racial issues and religious beliefs. They are allowed to quit, and reject answer the questions if they feel uncomfortable of the interview. In addition, the place of the interview will be set at a private place without any interruption. It can be promised that all the data collection is from anonymous interview or the Internet, interviewees are voluntary to participate, all the personal information will just use for academic research and will not be leaked. After data collection, all the original information will be locked into a private cabinet, which can be ensured all the information is only available by our group.

 

 

Project plan

Event

Period

Identify the title, objectives and aim

5th October

Find literature review and resources

6th October to 12th October

Share resources and discuss limitations

13th October

Design the interview and do a pilot test

14th October to 15th October

Write research proposal

16th October to 24th October

Modify and improve research proposal

25th October to 7th November

Make a cover page and submit

9th November

 

 

Risk analysis

Risk

Possibility (maximum 5)

 

Influence and severity degree (maximum 5)

Contingency

Research proposal might not be finished on time

2

5

Reasonable arrange times, make a comprehensive plan before start working

Data lost

1

5

Ensure the security of data and make regular backup copies

Secondary data is not suitable for our own situation

3

3

Find as much as possible data to adapt our own study

Secondary data might be forged

4

2

Find authentic and authoritative data.

order action

Price: £79

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