The majority of major companies in the US are a blend of millennials and baby boomers. They are equally good at their jobs but in terms of sociability and work goals, there are glaring disparities. The different communication styles these generations can be a real asset to a company. There is no need to think of it as millennials vs baby boomers in the workplace, and here’s why.
What Exactly are Baby Boomers and Millennials?
A baby boomer was born in the first 2 decades following WWII; 1945-64. There are around 76m baby boomers in the US. They were the main go-getters in the period between the 1960’s to the 1980’s, think Gordon Gecko, when the US saw a huge business growth. A millennial was born between 1980-1994. Way more were able to get a college education and they are making their mark in the 21st century. They are effectively a generation apart.
Many baby boomers view millennials as hotshots who are way too big for their Gucci boots. They also seem to have selective memory loss as they don’t recall how ambitious they were back in the ‘80s. Likewise, the millennials look at the older workers as has-beens but ignore the fact that these baby boomers had successful careers before they were even born. Anyone who has ever lost their temper with their child for thinking they know it all will sympathize with a baby boomer, whereas a kid who feels a parent doesn’t take them seriously will know where a millennial is coming from.
These are the key to baby boomers and millennials combining to create a force to be reckoned with in the workplace.
The biggest asset of the boomers is experience. They have been learning for decades and their brains have moved with the times and are wired for success. With this kind of experience comes wisdom, gleaned both from the workplace and life. They may not be wonderful with technology but will get how it works. They want a better world for their kids and grandchildren and want to feel that they are still needed to pass on what they have learned.
The core strength of a millennial is their potential. Yes they are tech-savvy, yes they have the benefits of a college education but they are lacking in the experience department. They may come across as arrogant but underneath that bravado, they know they still have a lot to learn and are willing to put in the time needed to be a success.
Oil and Water or Match Made in Heaven?
To create a healthy and productive work environment you don’t need to be best friends, you just need mutual respect. This is where so many companies go wrong as they try to force friendships across the generations that are oftentimes impossible to implement. You may all meet for a drink after work, you may not. A social group ranging in age from 30 to 65 is hard to find, but a work team with all that energy, experience and dynamics is something that should be nurtured and cherished.