Millennials vs. Baby Boomers at Work: How They Differ & Why It Matters

Posted on February 19, 2020 by Doug Crawford, Job Applications.com

Generations at Work

Baby boomers made up a large portion of the workforce for many years. With the addition of age groups like Generation X, Millennials, and Post-Millennials, staffing has become more diverse than ever. Today, the majority of laborers belong to two distinct generations: millennials and baby boomers.

Both groups share an interest in having a job they find fulfilling but each also has a unique perspective. When hiring new employees, it is important to be aware of generational differences. This can help you understand how people of certain ages feel about their careers.

The Millennial Generation

People born between 1981 and 1996 are part of the millennial generation. Although the date range sometimes varies, these individuals have similar views about their work-life balance. This group often gets a reputation for being lazy. However, millennials merely prefer flexible schedules and collective work. As digital natives, they’ve mastered more technological skills and use this as an advantage.

Millennials at Work

When it comes to their work lives, millennials want to feel like they have a purpose. They thrive off efficiency and the knowledge that their individual efforts contribute towards achieving a larger goal. This group of innovative thinkers find motivation in:

  • Mentorship opportunities
  • Feedback from superiors
  • Skills training and continued education
  • Performing a variety of different tasks
  • Promotion and potential for advancement

The Baby Boomer Generation

Many people from the baby boomer generation, born between 1946 and 1964, still work daily jobs in hopes of enjoying a more secure retirement. In general, baby boomers have less digital know-how and prefer face-to-face communication. Because of this, they may appear to be workaholics and resistant towards learning modern technology.

Baby Boomers at Work

Hard working and loyal employees, baby boomers are not likely to change jobs often. In fact, it is typical for them to work long shifts to move up the corporate ladder. Many baby boomers have a strong workplace ideology and take their job seriously. They prefer the structure of a traditional hierarchy and tend to be goal oriented. They find value in the following:

  • Flexible retirement planning
  • 401 (k) matching funds
  • Accomplishment of objectives
  • Recognition from peers
  • Autonomy and less frequent feedback

The Importance of Understanding Generational Differences

Although each group tends to share common ideals, you should strive to see your employees as unique individuals, regardless of their age. However, knowing generational tendencies may make it easier to motivate your staff. It can also help you to better understand applicants’ answers when conducting interviews.

Why Age Diversity Matters in the Workplace

Every generation brings different skills and perspectives with them to the job. As people of all ages work together, they make collaborative efforts to grow the success of a company from within. Having a staff made up of many age groups allows them to learn from one another. This makes diversity an especially important aspect for businesses.

Encouraging diversity starts with creating an inclusive environment. Each person should feel welcomed regardless of their differences. Employers must offer qualified staff members equal employment opportunities whatever their age. By treating all employees with respect and valuing their contributions. both workers and the company will benefit.

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