According to Menges, they found that age gaps "can harm company performance by negatively influencing employee emotions. If the age gap is small, employees throughout a company are less likely to experience such negative emotions."
While the researchers do not question the effectiveness of merit-based promotion, “we do have evidence for some of the repercussions that companies are likely to face when moving away from traditional age structures and abandoning seniority-based promotion systems.” Companies should therefore think carefully about how to avoid such pitfalls, including less emphasis on “career timetables” and “hierarchical thinking” so employees would respond less emotionally to age differences.
The study’s findings on emotion suppression were complex and nuanced. Whereas some previous studies found emotion suppression at the individual level to be a demanding and socially costly strategy, “we show that emotion suppression can be an effective strategy in circumstances that involve emotionally taxing social interactions.”
“This finding should not be taken to imply that organisations should promote cultures of emotional suppression,” the study says. Instead, companies should “approach the challenges of age-inverse supervisory relationships in ways that benefit both the company at the organisational level and the employees at the individual level, rather than one or the other.”
Source: University of Cambridge Judge Business SchoolNews Release (December 19, 2016)