Uniting Baby Boomers and Millennials

We have a new challenge in today’s workplace.

This challenge is neither good nor bad; it simply is.

This challenge is solving the friction being created by the value gap between two generations—the Baby Boomers and the Millennials—working together in today’s workplace.

Why is this challenge more significant today? It started out with my parents’ generation, who were the Traditionalist Generation. They valued platitudinal ideals like “owing their soul to the company store” and “a hard day’s work for a hard day’s pay.” They passed those ideals down to my generation—the Baby Boomers. We’ve always been the two generations that focused on being loyal to one company, working long hours, and giving our life-career to our employer.

When the Baby Boomers started having children—Generation X and, to a lesser extent, some Millennials—we wanted to work hard so our kids could have more than we had growing up. The most common phrase that I hear from my generation is that we created a “generation of entitled workers.” That is to say, the trophy-for-participation generation. Instead of them looking at a hard day’s work for a hard day’s pay, they want a more solid work-life balance, more innovation, and more fun.

“Every organization has a cause everyone can get behind.”

To be clear, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that. Those different sets of values bring wonderful, creative things to the workforce. The other thing about the Millennials that I particularly enjoy is that they are more cause-focused instead of profit-focused.

We all know we want to make money to stay in business, but they want to work for an organization that has a cause behind it.

Every organization has a cause—it doesn’t have to be some kind of nonprofit entity.

For our cause, we look at what we do as changing people’s lives. We help them find new careers where they can excel and grow.

It’s not surprising that Millennials have different values than the Baby Boomers. Think about that generation. They watched their parents toil at the same job for 20+ years only to be laid off in 2008…2009…2010. Their loyalty to the workplace, then, is different than the generation that came before them. Their average job tenure is about 18 months to three years.

Therein lies the other challenge between the two generations. Baby Boomers are starting to retire. In fact, the largest segment will retire within the next three years.

This means that a  workplace knowledge transfer must occur between the Baby Boomers and the Millennials.

The problem is Baby Boomers don’t want to transfer that workplace knowledge because that’s their job security. Not only that, but they also think there’s no point in transferring that knowledge to someone who’s going to be gone in three years anyway.

Companies need this transfer to take place, though. So, what can we do about it?

If you watched our last video, we talked about how values create the foundation of an organization. It’s important that you go back to the foundation of your company as a collective group and design shared values.

Establish a core set of values that everyone will adhere to, everyone can live with, and everyone can agree upon.

Baby Boomers love causes just as much as Millennials do. They also love fun and innovation, too. There are so many things we can do to bring these two groups together. If we allow them to stay apart by not building that core foundation, it’s going to create more friction within the workplaces.

We have a client that’s been doing this for the past few years, and the results are nothing short of amazing.

Millennials rally around the values and causes they can support. From day one, the values are shared and there’s an energy built around that core foundation that the company has established. Baby Boomers are excited because they’re seeing the workplace through a different lens that carries with it fun and innovation. It gets them excited about going to work after 20 years of being in the same position.

Simply put, it’s a win-win. We strongly recommend that you do this so you can get everybody working toward the same wonderful goals.

If you have any questions about how this works or how to start this practice, just send me an email. I’d be happy to help!