Managing Baby Boomers in the Workforce

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Baby Boomers in the workforce are a force to be reckoned with.  They are the single largest cohort in the history of the planet, and they have dominated culture, economics, and the workplace for the past half century in countries where the Baby Boom phenomenon exists.

Baby Boomers in the workforce are most pronounced in Australia, New Zealand, and Canada (presumably because the Second World War was six years long for these countries, but when they returned home, they did not have to rebuild their cities), followed by the United States and Western Europe.

First, we should define Baby Boomers in the Workforce:

 

Traditionalists:  1925 – 1945

Baby Boomers:  1946 – 1965

Generation X:    1966 – 1980

Millennials:         1980 – 1999

Who Cares About Baby Boomers in the Workforce?

 

  • Clashes between generations can directly affect turnover. If team members do not feel like they “fit in” or that their values are not reflected in the workplace, the there is a risk of unwanted turnover.
  • Baby Boomers in the workforce have been influenced by different life events than other generations and thus have different perspectives that can impact motivation and performance.  Understanding this better ensures the capture of discretionary effort.
  • A 2011 Robert Half survey revealed that 72% of hiring managers find it challenging to manage teams composed of members of different generations.  This is particularly challenging when younger generations are put in the position of managing Baby Boomers in the workforce.

Factors that Shaped Baby Boomers in the Workforce:

 

  • Birth of Rock n Roll.
  • Many Baby Boomers in the workforce are the former hippees of the 1960s.
  • Space exploration.  Many Baby Boomers in the workforce can remember a time before regular space travel.
  • Baby Boomers in the workforce are the most affluent generation in history.
  • Unlike previous generations, Baby Boomers in the workforce grew up in peaceful times, and most of them have never gone to war.
  • Baby Boomers in the workforce were the first to reject traditional values, after having grown up during the Civil Rights Movement, and other significant social changes.

Expectations of Baby Boomers in the Workforce:

 

  • Baby Boomers in the workforce value peer competition.
  • Boomers started the “workaholic” trend.  Where Traditionalists saw hard work as the right thing to do, Baby Boomers in the workforce see it as a way to get to the next level of success.
  • Baby Boomers in the workforce are committed to climbing the ladder of success.  They are seeking status, prestige, and money.
  • Baby Boomers in the workforce don’t like restrictive rules and regulations.

How to Lead and Motivate Baby Boomers in the Workforce:

 

  • Position, Titles and Prestige.  Baby Boomers in the workforce are achievement oriented, and respond to status represented by titles and position.
  • Provide Stability.  Baby Boomers in the workforce are mostly a loyal group, so even though many are close to retirement, longer term incentives are important to this cohort.
  • Recognize Their Experience and Contributions. Baby Boomers in the workforce have a wealth of experience that younger generations have yet to achieve.  Recognizing this allows other generations to learn from the Boomers, and also motivates Baby Boomers in the workforce.
  • Respect their knowledge and experience.  Set up formal opportunities for Baby Boomers in the Workforce to share their expertise with younger workers.
  • Personal Relationships. Deal with Boomers face to face.  Do not rely solely on email with this cohort.

Three Things that Frustrate Baby Boomers in the Workforce About Other generations:

 

  1. Generation X has no company loyalty.  They will jump ship quickly, and without regard for the organization.
  2. Generation Y has no patience.  They seem to be unwilling to “pay their dues”.
  3. Traditionalists rules and values are out of touch with modern reality.

Watch the ’3-Minute Crash Course’ about Managing Baby Boomers in the Workforce (CLICK THE ARROW TO START THE VIDEO):

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