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How Millennials and Baby Boomers Can Coexist in the Workforce

Thursday, February 18th, 2016

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For the first time in our lives, the baby boomers aren’t the largest workforce population.  The millennials, those born between 1981 and 1997, now outnumber the boomers. The old adage, “the times they are a changing” has never been more evident than in the workplace today as baby boomers find themselves as the hiring entities attempting to find common ground and an appreciation for what the millennials can add to their work environment. 

While boomers were groomed in a work force that respected loyalty, self-starters, independent workers, high overtime expectations and office formality, the millennials tend to have job ADD, a need for a hands on approach from their superiors, hold sacred their out of work time and function better in a more open, jeans wearing work environment. So, how can those two seemingly opposite generations function harmoniously and productively at work?

Start by acknowledging what the millennials can bring to the table.  While boomers are still playing catchup with technology, millennials teethed on it.  They can seamlessly upgrade versions, learn a new device and figure out code in their sleep.  This is an invaluable resource for the entire office. Millennials have a strong desire for self-betterment and social responsibility. Whether it’s recycling, starting an office charity fund, self-improvement workshops or creating a communal garden, they want to do better, be better. This non-egocentric mindset is refreshing and soul enlightening. Embrace it. It’s great PR and if it makes them happy, why not?

4genTo satisfy their need for a communal atmosphere, conduct roundtables when new technology or procedures enter your realm.  Regular staff meetings promote cohesiveness and a chance for clarification.  Be open to an interactive, open door work day.  Hiding behind blanket memos, gopher hole cubicles and closed doors creates isolation and isn’t healthy anyway.  An open office layout and communication procedure promotes transparency, human interaction and, ultimately, more loyalty and job satisfaction.

Have your staffing agency on speed dial!  Raised on 24 hour news channels, video games and a disposable society, millennials just can’t help their ADD nature. They may love working for you but their soul yearns to wander, explore and always seek out new challenges.  The idea of someone retiring from a company after 40 years with them is a distant memory. You’ll be lucky to get ten out of younger generations. So, be prepared to be in what can seem like a state of constant hiring. While this causes a slight back tracking as you bring the newbie up to speed, embrace the opportunity to be able to mold a new mind, appreciate the new spirit, talent and ideas. These days society applauds change, reform, and a company’s self-awareness. Remember, they have ADD too! 

While the workforce leaders and incoming talent come from two very different experiences and societies, they complement each other perfectly.  Millennials help boomers with technology and bring with them a more global mindset while the boomers provide the much needed and appreciated guidance and industry specific experience. A truly symbiotic dynamic that can sustain and grow your company…until the next generation!

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