When discussing millennials and boomers in the same sentence, the context is usually the perceived combative relationship between the two generations. Just this past month, there were several articles pointing to a survey in which millennials blamed boomers for pretty much all their troubles. It’s true that there does exist some friction between these age groups generally speaking, but on a personal basis, these relationships can be far more positive than is ever discussed.
Take the work environment – an area where boomers and millennials seem to butt heads the most. Boomers claim millennials are unmotivated and disloyal employees. Millennials see boomers are selfishly taking up jobs of younger professionals by refusing to leave the workforce. Of course, these are just greatly exaggerated generalizations with very little truth to them. Not only that, but many businesses are finding that millennials and boomers sharing a workplace actually creates a more thriving business.
So what benefits come from a multigenerational workplace?
With most any employer, the first thing they’re looking for in their workforce is a wide skill set. The most effective way for a business to address just about any problem that might present itself is to build a team with a variety of the necessary skills. That means an employer should look in a variety of places to fill out an effective team.
Certain people will say one generation is more skilled in areas where other generations might have less knowledge. Again, these are generalizations that certainly should not be attributed to an entire group, but it’s also trying to give a negative spin on something that is just a given fact. Of course, there will be a difference in the skill sets of boomers versus those of millennials – how could there not be? Difference experiences, different careers, growing up in different worlds will all contribute to how they have developed professional skills over the years. But that’s not a bad thing. Having professionals from different generations working together means a wider range of valuable skills are at play. Newer skills meet proven skills and strengthen the workforce together. Businesses can take advantage of having a collection of skills that compliment each other rather than slowing each other down.
Experience matters. It is a statement that BoomersPlus has built our job-placement service around and one that many businesses are learning for themselves. While some employers might have feared the uncertainty of older professionals, many have had a reversal in their thinking and recognized the value these experienced professionals can provide to a business. That experience not only helps to keep the business running but helps it grow through the sharing of experience.
Despite their reputations as selfish, boomers have shown to be terrific mentors to younger generations. In the workplace, that mentorship is essential as they pass on the necessary skills and advice that helps those less-experienced professionals reach that next level. And the beauty of a multigenerational workplace is that mentorship can be a two-way street. Younger professionals can help boomers stay current with tools and tech that make the job easier. The workplace becomes an area where knowledge that can help the business thrive is shared openly and everyone is elevated with the help of those around them.
Yes, of course, there are differences among millennials and boomers — that’s obvious. But why does that always have to be a bad thing? What business thrives when everyone is thinking the same way? That might sound like the ideal way for a workplace to run, but we all know that innovation springs forth when different outlooks come together. Simply because these generations might have different perspectives doesn’t mean it has to be combative. These are generations who live together, are family members and are still able to share their own opinions respectfully. It’s ridiculous to think that can’t be the case in a professional setting. These different perspectives help to inform and strengthen the problem solving, idea generating and brainstorming processes within the workplace. New ideas emerge when someone looks at the situation in a different way. Businesses who embrace those differences rather than try to avoid it are the ones who succeed.
Regardless of what they might say about millennials and boomers being sworn enemies, there’s no reason to buy into the negativity. Working together shows that these generations can not only tolerate each other but may in fact bring out the best in each other.