Friends or foes? Multi-generations at home and work

There's been a lot of buzz lately in the press and board rooms about the challenges of managing four generations in the workplace.  The economic crisis has only exacerbated the situation with older workers staying in their jobs long after anticipated planned retirement.

But the workplace isn't the only place that multi-generational challenges are taking place.

While generational differences have always existed, this is a new dawn.

As a result of layoffs, excessive debt, and an aging population, many people are moving back with family.  Young adults (Gen X and Gen Y)are moving home to get their finances in order, from the 40-year-old recovering from a foreclosure to the 30-year-old saving up the down payment to help him buy his first home.

An excellent article on highlighted this socio-economic event:

It's not only "boomerang" kids returning to the nest and creating bigger households. On the other end of the age spectrum, some older Americans lost a good deal of their nest eggs due to the fall of the stock market –funds intended to pay for their everyday expenses or assisted living. Some of them are moving in with family too.

What can result is a household with members who span three generations. Just take the multi-generational White House for example.  Michelle Obama's mother, Marian Robinson, moved into the White House after helping with the children, Malia and Sasha, during the presidential campaign.

Multi-generation households aren't all bad.  With grandparents in the house, children can get a strong sense of their family's culture. By helping out with younger children, parents benefit from the extra hands and grandparents often have a stronger sense of purpose. (The same benefit happens in the workplace with older workers get to mentor and coach young workers – and vice verse.)

According to a recent survey by AARP Bulletin:

  • 11% of people between the ages of 35 and 44 said they live with parents or in-laws.
  • 11% of those 50 or older said they live with
  • their grandchildren or their parents.
  • 15% of those surveyed said it was likely that they may need to move in with family or friends, or have family or friends move in with them.
  • 34% said that a loss in income would drive them to that move.
  • 19% said it would be due to a change in job status
  • 8% said it would be due to foreclosure.

Read more about Sandwich Generation boomers and boomerang children.



Ira S Wolfe