The Challenge of an 8-Second Attention Span . After just eight seconds young people under 21 switch off. Is it possible for them to work in harmony with the over 60s?

A bold new initiative, launched during Dundee Women’s Festival, aims to encourage harmony between the generations in the workplace and within communities. At the helm is Sandra Burke OBE, former CEO at Dundee and Angus Chamber of Commerce, social justice campaigner and recently appointed Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts.

At a packed event in the Apex Hotel Dundee, she delivered a lively outline of the project and explained why it’s vital for employers, other organisations, families and groups to have a greater understanding of what makes each generation tick.

Sandra enthused: “It’s an amazing time to be alive. Because we are all living longer, for the first time in human history, FIVE generations are living and working alongside each other. Never has mutual understanding been so vital – to break down unnecessary barriers, live harmoniously and learn from different perspectives.”

She explained the main characteristics of each generation, highlighting the impact of computers, social media and other new technology on younger people.

“Research shows the Post-Millennials (under 21) have an online attention span of just 8 seconds. Take longer and you will be ignored. They are not being rude. Born into life as digital pioneers, they’re just quicker to react and more tech savvy than many older people.

“Baby Boomers (aged 55 - 72) are characterised more by their relative affluence, zest for life and determination to redesign and enliven the whole concept of retirement. Millennials (aged 22 - 37) are less well off in property and pensions terms, but are redesigning employment in the quest for a more balanced and creative lifestyle.

“Society is changing dramatically as working lives and lifespan get longer, making generational theory, which has its roots in marketing, ever more important to understand.

“My interest in this fascinating social change was sparked by a mix of extensive personal experience of team working, my chartered marketing background, plus almost 20 years of living in a three-generation household. I can honestly say it’s been a lively rollercoaster living with teenagers, husband Tom and my mum-in-law for all this time. We’ve all made compromises to make a success of the challenge of living together and I’ve learned a lot.”

Mind the Generation Gap will help individuals, businesses and community groups understand the generations better via themed blogs, events, workshops, talks, research and working in partnership with others. Sandra would love to hear from businesses, groups and researchers with an interest in the topic. Find out more at www.mindthegenerationgap