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The Generational Differences and Impacts of Aging Civil Service

The Generational Differences and Impacts of Aging Civil Service

Hsiang-Kai Dong, Don-Yun Chen, Guang-Xu Wang, Ting-Hung Wang, Ching-En Chan


Discrepancy in opinion exists among different generations. It is always a challenge for managers to deal with the “generation gaps” in the workplace. Before 2015, the average age of our civil servants was around 43 years old, that of the newly recruited about 27, and the average retirement age was never over 56. However, since the discussion and planning of pension reform started in 2015, the average retirement age has gradually increased. At the time that the pension reform was actually implemented in 2018, the average retirement age showed a significant increase to over 57. By 2031, it is estimated that the retirement age of our civil servants will increase by 7 to 8 years. As a result, the issue of “three generations under the same roof” will be much more critical. Given the respect for seniority in our culture, whether such a phenomenon leads to managerial or communication problems in the public sector is worth studying.
This research used stratified random sampling to conduct a survey on 9,000 civil servants between September and October of 2019. We received 8,243 responses. Among those, 7,549 responses were complete, resulting in a valid response rate of 83.88%. Results of our analyses showed that the pension reform had much greater impacts on work morale and enthusiasm for the younger generation, while it had greater impacts on the feeling about slower promotion for the middle and senior generations. In addition, younger civil servants not only indicated that their communication with the senior civil servants was not smooth, but also noticed that their supervisors tend to allocate work based on subordinates’ age. More problematic, young supervisors sometimes may not effectively manage or control their senior subordinates. Also, we found that young and middle-aged civil servants regarded job rotation as a useful work setting, and they in general valued courses related to career development more than other courses. However, senior civil servants cared more about courses related to their career, health, and retirement plans. Managerial and policy recommendations were also discussed in this paper.

Keywords: generation gap, three generations under the same roof, human resource management in the public sector, aging in civil service