Baby boomers and Millennials. It often times feels like we are on completely different ends of the spectrum. Baby boomers are of course our parents, and who raised us Millennials right? So why and how are we so vastly different? A lot of the differences stem from the culture going on around our parents, which shaped how they operate in their career and personal lives. I really like this article from the balance about those differences. I’ll be using it in this post.
The workaholic generation
According to the balance, “Baby Boomers are extremely hardworking and motivated by position, perks and prestige.” I would argue that Millennials are motivated by these things too. The opportunity to quickly promote and see all your hard work pay off is motivating to Millennials, and baby boomers alike. Many of us have families to support, and there is no sense in staying at a dead end job if you don’t have to. Many millennials are very hard working as well, and have a strong desire to grow their career and will work hard to do so.
Where this gets dangerous
The second part of the work centric segment gets a bit more dangerous for any one’s well being. The balance states that baby boomers “relish long work weeks and define themselves by their professional accomplishments.” The economy was good then absolutely! Being proud of your self for getting that big promotion, yes! great work! defining yourself by your professional accomplishments gets dicey.
Why do you work in the first place?
If you weren’t getting a paycheck, you wouldn’t be coming to work amiright? One of the big characteristics of baby boomers is that they had a lot of kids! Long hours means you are not spending time with your family. You work to support your family financially. However, if you are working so many long hours that you never see your kids, and never raise them, you have failed. All that work is for nothing. Then you have thrown your kid into society unprepared for the world. Society ends up stuck with to many whiney millennials that make good millennials look bad because you were overly focused on work, and couldn’t bother to raise your kids. Ben Carson has a quote out there somewhere that I’ll do my best to sum up. Basically, when you resign, the company goes on with out you fairly unscathed. Your lack of time with your family does not leave them unscathed.
The balance refers to baby boomers as “confident, independent and self-reliant. This generation grew up in an era of reform and believe they can change the world. They questioned established authority systems and challenged the status quo.” That’s great! Being self-reliant and independent are great qualities! This is how you grow emotionally and professionally! This mentality is what builds new businesses and creates new jobs! However, in the work centric segment baby boomers believe Generation X, Y, and millennials should ‘should pay their dues and conform to a culture of overwork.’ So, baby boomers can challenge the status quo, but millennials should conform to a culture of overwork? I would love an explanation for that one. Good millennials don’t just stay at dead end jobs to ‘pay their dues’. If a better opportunity comes up we will take it. Millennials also use technology to their advantage. They can work smart.
There is something to be said for Independence
One of the bad raps that milennials get is that they are still living at home when they are 25 years old. Typically, there are not real extenuating circumstances going on there (sometimes there are, and that is different). So, why aren’t you getting a room mate and getting an apartment? Living your own life away from your parents? Adulting? There used to be a stigma associated with being to old to be living with your parents. What happened there? I know everyone falls on hard times now and then. However, if you have a full time job and the ability to pay rent, insurance etc. why aren’t you? It doesn’t make you look good professionally, even it that is your personal life.
The balance states that baby boomers “equate work and position with self-worth, they are quite competitive in the workplace.” So, you’re a ‘team player’ per the requirements on the job description, but you need to be competitive. There is nothing wrong with competing with your self so strive to do better. However, too much competition within the workplace can be detrimental. It can encourage illegal and destructive behavior from employees. It can create a tense work environment which decreases morale and creates high turnover.
The right kind of competition
Competing as a company to be better than the competition benefits everyone on the team. Millennials tend to be more collaborative. We collaborate to solve problems. We don’t compete against each other, we work together to be the best. When I was in property management, I grew the most professionally. The reason, I had a lot of co-workers to learn from. Many of them had far more experience than I did as well. It was a really good opportunity to learn and grow. We worked together, and the company encouraged it! The company discouraged us competing against each other because we were all on the same team! The company I worked for has a very good reputation, and has grown over the past few years.
Hierarchical versus flat
The balance states that “Boomers believe in hierarchical structure and rankism and may have a hard time adjusting to workplace flexibility trends. They believe in “face time” at the office and may fault younger generations for working remotely.” There’s a couple of things that could be said here. First, millennials tend to be drawn the the start up workplaces, where they have the opportunity to make a difference. These organizations tend to be fairly flat too. Everyone works together to get the job done, and they have the opportunity to get a pretty cool title early on if they work hard enough. Millennials do not tend to favor hierarchical work organizations. There is a ton of red tape to go through to get things done and/or approved.
working hard or hardly working?
Some times face time can be good. Having a face to face conversation versus an email conversation can decrease misunderstandings between two people simply by being able to talk versus write it out. However, ‘face time’ for the sake of face time is outdated. It no longer makes you appear like a good, hard worker just because you are in the office late. One’s work should speak for itself, and you can do that in the office or remotely. Working remotely can easily be beneficial to the employee and the company. The company can offer a perk that can attract the best talent. They can save money on rent of a brick and mortar office. They don’t have to pay relocation costs for an out of state employee they want to hire. Employees can work from home if they have a sick kid. Workers don’t have to spend the time driving back and forth to the office. They can save money on gas vehicle wear and tear. Allowing employees to work remotely will likely become more common place. Baby boomers will need to get used to it.
Things have changed so much in the past 40 or so years! Some for the better…some not. But, things have changed. Baby boomers must either adapt to the changes, or end up out of business the choice is really theirs. They are capable, but are they willing? Only the strong will survive in this business climate, so we will see what happens.