Working with Baby Boomers
The baby boomer generation has perhaps been one of the most notable generations in the recent century. The generation following what has been termed “The Great Generation,” baby boomers were born after World War II between 1946 and 1964 and grew up in the 50’s, 60’s, and early 70’s. This generation typically involves the following:
- Eager and devoted work ethic that seeks to be rewarded with monetary compensation
- A “work hard, play hard” mentality
- Individualistic and independant mindsets that enable them to work their best when taking charge of a project alone
- A competitive nature which seeks to perform well both for themselves and in front of others
Working with the baby boomers can seem intimidating due to what feels a potentially larger age gap than what you may be used to, but you will discover that they are excellent workers when they know the goal. Below are some tips and techniques to consider when trying to keep a happy and productive work environment with a baby boomer.
The Baby Boomer’s Relationship With Technology
Baby boomers are dedicated employees.
Employee surveys show that they plan to work much longer than the generation before them. They are known for working with vigor and efficiency. As a peer or subordinate, it would be wise to recognize their hard work by responding to messages or acknowledging their years of experience. Likewise, if you are in a management position, allow them a moment in the limelight to show their knowledge and display their effort.
This generation is extremely money motivated.
Potential frictions and conflicts
The significant age gap that may occur between the separate generations in the workforce has the potential to cause conflict. Since the baby boomer will have potentially up to 50 years more life experience than the younger Millennial’s, tension may arise when their younger counter parts begin to climb the ladder and excel. To manage this, direct attention toward the achievements and capabilities of individual members of the team. Back in the day, baby boomers were the generation that brought about the Civil Rights movement and the rise of feminism. The realm of the individual is almost like home for them.
If you are on the receiving end of any hostility, don’t feel too overwhelmed. Like many other areas of life, some people are skilled in areas you are not. Endeavor to find those areas in your baby boomer coworkers, and remind yourself of your own strengths. It just may be that that the individual feels that his job may be threatened by your work.
While it may not be your duty to reassure the baby boomer that you won’t be moving into their office next week, it could go a long way in keeping a peaceful work environment. As a manager, it is you job to keep workflow producing and ensure employee happiness. Take time to calm any potential fears a member of this generation might have, as it will help them move on with their projects. You might even give them specific projects that appeal to their strengths and years of knowledge in the field.
If possible, have their work ethic be a source of inspiration for younger generations. As a subordinate of the baby boomer, take notes. While you may not agree with them on how to run your social life, you should be able to find the innovations they have contributed to the company that actually make your job easier.
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