With half of companies (55%) now employing three or more generations, a new study conducted by The Adaptavist Group delivers actionable insights for businesses on navigating the multi- generational workplace.

This year’s results reveal the pressing need for clear digital communication guidelines to support effective collaboration and workplace efficiency among diverse age groups. While highlighting areas of intergenerational friction, it also revealed large areas of mutual understanding and cooperation.

Lost in translation

A staggering 89% of teams report conflicts over digital tools, with 85% acknowledging these disagreements hamper productivity and collaboration. Digital communication is also rife with confusion—misinterpretations of tone or context (40%), mismatched response time expectations (33%), and confusion over digital expressions like emojis (34%) all underline the need for clearer digital communication standards.

Bridging the digital divide

This divide extends to generational working styles. While 56% of Gen Z envy older colleagues’ phone confidence, half of workers over 50 years old are annoyed by younger colleagues’ lack of traditional tools like pens. Additionally, 50% of Gen Z believe older workers slow things down with dated techniques, and 80% claim more senior colleagues struggle with technology.

Digital toolbox or bloated tech stack?

The digital toolbox keeps expanding, with only 6% reporting a reduction in tools. Both Gen Z (66%) and older workers (47%) are adopting more tools, signalling an across-the-board increase in engagement. This rise could represent increased innovation or a bloated tech stack from adding new tools faster than needed. However, one sign of a quality tool is longevity—email remains the number one application for 77% of all workers across generations.

AI: digital gift and generational rift

AI is the tech on everyone’s lips, and the hype is real. AI is now the most used tool for almost a quarter (22%) of all workers. While Gen Z leads adoption at 31%, 12% of workers over 50 years old are leveraging AI platforms like ChatGPT and Claude more than any other tool. However, underlying this growing usage is deep concern – 70% worry AI may widen generational divides, and 69% believe it may accelerate Gen Z’s workplace ascendancy.

Dr. Eliza Filby, Historian of Generational Evolution, commented;

There are some timeless ways to bring us all together. For instance, while face-to-face interaction is a point of anxiety for many, and something we are doing less in a hybrid workplace, we all crave connection, and it can be the best way to alleviate intergenerational conflicts. Managing the multigenerational workforce is more crucial than ever as AI enters our lives and poses a greater risk of driving a technological wedge and dehumanising interactions between the generations.

Dr. Eliza Filby, Historian of Generational Evolution

The human element prevails

Beneath perceived stereotypes labelling millennials as “lazy” and boomers as “bossy,” there’s a shared desire among all workers to be seen as individuals. A significant 81% oppose such categorisations, believing workplaces should stop supporting generational stereotypes. The study reveals 48% worry generational labels lead to damaging stereotypes, and 41% fear potential exclusion from being categorised by age. Older workers, in particular, express discomfort with age-based classification – 72% of workers 65+ and 78% of those aged 55-64 say dividing generations is problematic. It’s evident that ageism is a major concern, especially for more experienced employees.

Simon Haighton-Williams, CEO of The Adaptavist Group, calls for a strategic approach to digital etiquette, emphasising the importance of fostering environments that respect generational differences while promoting unity and collaboration.

The challenge for employers is threefold: to create a culture that values individual contributions, encourages cohesive teamwork, and respects generational diversity without resorting to stereotypes. This demands agile and enlightened leadership committed to bridging the digital divide.

Simon Haighton-Williams, CEO of The Adaptavist Group

To read the full data analysis, follow this link.

Editor at Workplace Wellbeing Professional | Website | + posts

Joanne is the editor for Workplace Wellbeing Professional and has a keen interest in promoting the safety and wellbeing of the global workforce. After earning a bachelor's degree in English literature and media studies, she taught English in China and Vietnam for two years. Before joining Work Well Pro, Joanne worked as a marketing coordinator for luxury property, where her responsibilities included blog writing, photography, and video creation.