Millennials and Baby Boomers in the Workplace

There are more people out in the workplace than ever before. 

As a generation, we are living longer, retiring later, and people are entering the workforce at an earlier age. Generations continue to merge within the workplace today, from the Silent Generation all the way to Gen Z.  In five years, Millennials – those born between about 1980 and 2000 – will make up 75 percent of the global workforce. 

In this blog, we’ll discuss the differences among generations but also assess generational similarities in work-related attitudes in an effort to provide guidance for your own employer brand.

Obvious differences exist between Baby Boomers and Millennials. Age diversity can show its face based on tech-savviness, comfort working within hierarchical business models,  lifestyle habits, family-centricity, burdens and socio-political views. It’s necessary observation to understand how workplace attributes and preferences resonate with various age demographics and generations. It matters a lot to the success of your employer brand. Oftentimes, these variances are the sole factors getting in the way of success.  They can impact the success of recruitment marketing, employee experience, collaboration within teams, leadership effectiveness, wellness, reputation and turnover.  

Here’s what we know about each generation:

Baby Boomers

Work-Centric: Baby Boomers are hardworking and use their position and prestige as a motivating factor to achieve. They value long hours over a work/life balance.

Goal-Oriented: Baby Boomers are more educated  and financial opportunities that weren’t available to older generations in the work-force. This makes them more achievement-oriented, dedicated, and career-focused.

Competitive: Baby Boomers equate work and ranking with self-worth, and because of this, they are quite competitive in the workplace. They are clever, resourceful and strive to win. Boomers believe in a hierarchical structure and prefer the office over working remotely


Tech-Savvy: Millennials grew up with technology and rely heavily on communication through email, text messaging, and social media. 

Family-centric: Millennials are willing to trade high pay for fewer billable hours and prioritize a work/life balance to be with family and friends

Achievement and team-oriented: Millennials are confident, ambitious, seek new challenges, and often have high expectations of their employers. They value teamwork and seek the input and affirmation of others. 

Feedback-driven: Millennials value guidance, and often need frequent praise and reassurance. They may benefit greatly from mentors (usually Boomers) who can help guide and develop their talents. 

How do these differences affect the workplace?

There is certainly a shift in how Gen Z and Millennials view the world. Millennials are more educated than past generations, with more women graduating than men, but are less well off than previous generations. Financial wealth is flat lining. They have incurred greater debt due to education costs, and bigger challenges in securing a mortgage.  They grew up with technology in their hands so they prefer to communicate with DMs and social media rather than work emails.  Early career needs and expectations are different than Boomers.  How they are supported and motivated should in turn be based on their current life experiences and preferences.

Rather than focus so much on the values of each generation, we need to understand the socio-economic environments that influence each generation, and their stage of life. Think more in terms of Stage of Life vs Generational demographic. 

Someone under the age of 35 may be focused on securing their first home. Qualifying for a  mortgage, getting a strong financial plan in place to reduce student debt may matter a lot. Knowing that an employer will invest in practical education and training early on may be very important to their career choices.  

Now consider an employee in their mid-late forties, who may have children at home, an aging parent and a management role with heavy deliverables. . At this stage in life they may require more balance in their lives. They may need greater flexibility, better workload balancing, and mentoring. They are taking care of a lot of people, including your own employees and may be stretched very thin. Wellness programs, work/life balance, benefits,  childcare or parent care solutions may be meaningful.  They want great leaders, purpose and impactful work.

What can employers do?

Of course, take generational differences into consideration, but be sure to use your employer brand research and talent personas to better understand your employees and job seekers experience based on their personal stage of life. As an individual, you would probably argue that your personal obligations impact your wants, needs and behaviours more than your birthday. Employees, like consumers, expect more personalized experiences and will flourish if programs and communications truly considerate those unique needs from the start.  

Maintaining your employer brand takes work. It’s an ongoing process that requires understanding, refining and personalizing your employee experience, based on what employees value most, and what makes you truly unique as an employer. If you would like to learn more about employer branding and how we can help you build a resilient and best-in-class corporate culture, call Blu Ivy today at 647-308-2352.
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