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What makes age diverse teams effective? Results from a six-year research program


Based on a new model of productivity in age diverse tams, findings from a six-year research program are reported in which data from more than 745 natural teams with 8,848 employees in three different fields (car production, administrative work, financial services) were collected. Moreover, central assumptions of this model were tested with a representative survey of the German workforce (N = 2,000). Results support both significant advantages and disadvantages for age-mixed teams. Based on the findings, the following preconditions for the effectiveness of age diverse teams are identified: high task complexity, low salience and high appreciation of age diversity, a positive team climate, low age-discrimination, ergonomic design of work places, and the use of age differentiated leadership. Based on these insights, we developed a new training for supervisors, which addresses the aforementioned aspects and seeks to improve team performance and health of team members. It was found that the training reduces age stereotypes, team conflicts and enhances innovation. Thus, we can conclude that effective interventions for a successful integration of elderly employees in work groups are available and that combinations of measures that address ergonomic design issues, team composition and leadership are to be strongly recommended for practice.