Reimagining the Workplace for Millennials and Baby Boomers

Morgan Grant

The workplace has become a generational melting pot, with millions of millennials entering the workforce each year and fewer baby boomers leaving. While there are a lot of differences between millennials and baby boomers, these differences can come together to produce amazing results. To promote collaboration between the two at your company, it’s important to understand each generation and what they value in a workplace. Then you can know just how to break the ice and encourage these two different generations to come together as one.

Millennials: What You Should Know

According to Forbes, millennials will make up more than one-third of adult Americans by 2020, and will be 75% of the workforce by 2025. They are the future of the American workplace, so it’s important to know what they value in a job. One thing is for sure: they’re looking for more than a hefty paycheck. Millennials value time invested in allowing them to learn new skills. In fact, in Deloitte’s 2014 Millennial Survey, 75% of those surveyed said that the companies they work for could do more to develop future leaders. Millennials also strive to make an impact in whatever they do. According to Deloitte’s 2016 Survey, 76% of millennials believe that business has the power to make a difference. And lastly, a big find through the Deloitte survey was how millennials view technology in the workplace as an open door for opportunities, rather than a risk factor. 62 percent of the 8,000 millennials surveyed across 30 countries believe that technology will increase productivity within the workplace, and 53percent believe it will drive economic growth. So overall, millennials are optimistic about their future in the workplace and the future of the American workforce.

Baby Boomers: What You Should Know

According to a study published by AARP, 41 percent of baby boomers don’t want to retire - and since then, they haven’t shown any signs of changing their minds. In fact, one in ten baby boomers say they don’t think they will ever retire. While some boomers think they can’t afford to retire, many of them just enjoy going to work.

Boomers are extremely hard working - in fact, the Transamerica Center states that 34 percent of baby boomers plan to continue working simply because they enjoy it. They are well motivated by incentives such as raises, promotions, and benefits, and are known as the generation that sticks around. According to INC, they are less likely to switch employers throughout their career. And just as millennials want to learn new skills to further them in their careers, baby boomers are the biggest users of financial planning and education services – 88 percent to be exact. Overall, boomers take pride in coming to work on time, dressed in business attire, and putting in a full day’s work.

Two Generations, One Workplace

Both millennials and baby boomers do have one thing in common: they want to be successful within their workplace. Although they may go about it differently, both generations want to be successful in what they do and be appreciated for their work. So how can you bring these two generations together?

1. Get the Conversation Going

 Encourage discussions between the two groups and push for conversations about life goals, past work experiences, and even politics. Learning more about each other and moving past the biases they have set for one another is the first step in a good working relationship.

2. Define Success in Different Ways

 Because the two generations can have different views on the meaning of success and different definitions of a good worker, it’s important that you support them both. Make it less about the action being taken in getting the work done, and more about the quality of the finished product. If you have an employee who believes that coming in early and staying late helps them achieve their goal, and they follow through with a successful product – reward them. And if you have an employee who likes to work from home at times, or enjoys taking their work outside, but who always manages a successful product – reward them. Show your employees, young and old, that what matters is the outcome, not how you get there.

3. Pair Them Together

Have them work together. It seems simple, but pairing the two generations on a project gives them the opportunity to get to know each other, work out their differences, and figure out a process that can be implemented for future projects. Give them a common goal and let them decide how they want to achieve it.

If you want success for your company and the employees you manage, try bringing out the best in both generations. They have a lot to learn from each other, and a bright future in the American workforce.