Baby Boomers and Millennials in the Workplace

One group was born during World War II, the Korean War, and the start of the Vietnam Conflict. One group was born during the infancy of MTV and the personal computer. One group came into the workforce during a time when most employees started at one job and stayed there for the majority of their careers. The other group changes jobs fairly frequently due to the economy and their desire to see what’s out there. So, how do you get the older group to understand the younger one? No, this isn’t a new sitcom; it’s the reality in many workplaces: Baby boomers don’t always understand how millennials work, literally, and it can often lead to workplace conflict.

  • They have different motivations. Baby boomers were the original authority questioners, but they’ve now, for the most part, settled in with a work ethic that some might consider extreme, and they tend to be motivated on the job by a solid paycheck for a job well done. Millennials, on the other hand, tend to prefer a more flexible schedule and would prefer to work at a job they enjoy and feel they are truly contributing to rather than simply collect a paycheck at a job they couldn’t stand. And millennials tend to prefer more extrinsic motivation, which can come off as needy if misunderstood.
  • Use their best qualities to motivate. In a situation with a baby boomer as manager and a millennial as worker, the older set should understand that millennials really are a hardworking group; very goal-oriented. They’re also multitaskers and used to working in groups, so if you give them a collaborative assignment with various “moving parts,” chances are good that they’ll take it and run with it. They’re also extremely tech-savvy and “connected” via that technology, so have them work on making sure your company’s Web presence is up to speed and see if they can combine their skills to reach out to remote clients.
  • Give a little to get a little. Admittedly, one stigma of millennials is that they grew up at a time when they were lavished with praise and received rewards with little incentive. Some don’t always know how to accept criticism well. Use your experience to teach them how to deal with the rough hands that the workplace often deals…and learn from them how to navigate more smoothly in an increasingly virtual working world.

It doesn’t have to be an “us” versus “them” mentality with baby boomers and millennials in the same workplace. To quote Lennon and McCartney, do what you can to “come together.”

For more tips, read our related blog posts or reach out to the experienced staffing professionals at PrideStaff Thousand Oaks today!