For the majority of my life, my mid-fifties mother has spent most of her career working for the same company. Having said that, she has seen colleagues of all ages come and go, either to transfer their abilities to a new workspace or to jet off into the supposed splendor of retirement.

While my mom does consider herself one of the eldest people in her office, she recently told me about a 62-year-old woman who has spent many of her years in the workplace, yet her role has shifted over the years.

Although employees in the workplace seem to fade out once they’ve hit a plateau in their careers, it has become more apparent than ever that working environments need someone with maturity and, more importantly, experience in order to keep companies afloat with the incoming of millennials and those even younger.

Change is in the Air

There are many characteristics that have been branded onto those of the millennial generation (most notably their arrogance and impatience). Planting the younger generation into a working environment has consistently proven to be tough for those of elder generations with comparably stronger career backgrounds. With the coming of the iGen population as they begin their working lives, the atmosphere in the workplace is ever-changing whether we choose to recognize it or not.

In my mom’s office, for example, they receive dozens of young recruits every month, and the transition is tough for those with little to no corporate experience. Those that have just entered their first real job out of college aren’t expected to be as capable as those whom have more experience, which is where the elder staff members come into play.

The older employees are the glue that holds the establishment together, and they act as the guiding hands to the “newbies” who may not be as skilled. Whether they’ve been in dozens or just one position for the duration of their career, these “vets” know about their craft far more in depth than those just starting. Therefore, their presence is needed for fluidity in the future of the workspace.

Generations in Conversation

So while the 62-year-old woman in my mom’s office may stick out like a sore thumb in her cubicle surrounded by many people who are significantly younger than she, she is able to become something of a mentor to the newcomers. She is making something new out of her current efforts in the industry and taking on a new responsibility in her working endeavors.

Furthermore, a knack that the younger generations are known for is their affinity with all things technology, something that the elder generations sometimes lack. In this sense, the variety of ages in the corporate structure allows everyone to be able to learn from each other, therefore, allowing the group to only flourish further. This shift allows the elder employees to continue their career in a positive direction as they gather fresh insight from those who know it best, and in exchange, they provide the instruction that is needed for the rookies.

When you’re beginning your career, the objective is to propel yourself to your best potential, and continually learn about whatever it is you’re going to be doing for the next however many years. However, as it is coming to a close, you owe it to yourself to use all you’ve learned to aid the success in the future of your industry. Prove to yourself (and to others) how hard you’ve worked to get to where you are, and leave a strong legacy for those just beginning this ride.

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