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It’s Time To Embrace The Multigenerational Workplace

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?

Skills.

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.

Mentoring.

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.

Perspective.

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.

If you’re looking to get back in the professional work, sign up for FREE with BoomersPlus. We help match experienced professionals with job opportunities that fit your skills. To learn more, visit our website at https://www.boomersplus.com/ or email us at info@boomersplus.com.

 

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ENCORE: The Generational Gap: The Search For “Meaningful Work”

Welcome to ENCORE, brought to you by Boomersplus.com. This weekly interview show focuses on the boomer community and the topics surrounding them. Each episode, host Costas Halavrezos is joined by an expert guest for an engaging and intellectual conversation on topics ranging from health care, to career plans, to news of the day. The show is presented by BoomersPlus, a service which matches employers with experienced professionals.

The younger generations are often criticized for their lack of work ethic in the eyes of the older, more experienced generations. At this time, it’s the millennials who are getting a bad rap. But why is that? Are millennials truly a lazier generation, or do they just have a different approach to career life than boomers?

Our guest is Kelly Weeks recently published her findings on the research in the generational gap in the Harvard Business Journal and shares with us how a search for meaningful work separates the millennials and the boomers.

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Millennials And Boomers Are Different – What’s Your Point?

I recently read an article over at Bloomberg discussing the much-talked about differences between millennials and boomers. The general point of view of the article came down to two distinct points: of course they are different and why are we still talking about this?

My thoughts exactly.

In working as a writer who caters to a specific generation, I am constantly inundated with articles about this very subject and the above sentiment has always been my opinion on the matter. People write these pieces about the difference that separate generation as if they are pointing out some great psychological discovery that define our current world. What they are, in reality, doing is explaining to we the readers in cryptic, almost apocalyptic tones something that is not only obvious, but something that has been true forever.

This is no new concept. There are people on this world who, separated by years of age, share different opinions. These articles go on about the great differences that exist between people in their 20s and people in their 50s as if that’s some wise observation. The same was true when boomers were in their 20s and the same will be true when millennials are in their 50s. It’s inevitable and wholly uninteresting in my opinion.

But the issue is not that there are countless pointless articles on the subject – that’s easy enough to ignore. The problem comes with what these articles aim to do. They want to highlight the gap and throw blame from one side to the other. They want to pit these generations against one another through their writing. Worse and more unforgivable, some people buy into this ridiculous point of view. On social media and in the comment sections I always see these people complaining about selfish boomers or lazy millennials, generalizing an entire generation into their one tweet.

The question is, why would these differences mean anything to us anyway. Yes, a large portion of the boomer population disagrees with a large portion of the millennial population on a number of issues, but none of that erases the similarities they share. We have all lived in multi-generational surroundings and have been perfectly content with each other. These people are of a different generation, yes, but they are also our family, our friends and our loved ones. What differences could possibly matter weighed against that?

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The Fallacies Of The Boomer “Job Thief”

Boomers are well aware of a push back against their generation. It’s not something you may face on a daily basis, and people you might know may say it without realizing you’re a boomer, but it does exist. Now, that is not to suggest even slightly that boomers are a persecuted group. The push—back I refer to is slight and mostly comes down to younger generations blaming them for how things have turned out. Tim Worstall addressed one of the most popular boomer-blaming sentiments in a Forbes article. Before I delve into what he has to say, let me break down his very clear message; Of course boomers aren’t stealing jobs from younger generations.

If you are reading this article, chances are you know this to be a fact, but the thought is still out there. Finding a job is hard these days and younger generation enter the workforce to find it flooded with competition. There have been many article as of late detailing the fact that millennials have fallen behind in pace with where boomers were at their age. No doubt, it’s tough out there, but the blame can’t be passed so easily. Younger generations say that boomers are being selfish, staying in the workforce longer than is needed and taking away jobs for the next generation. Ask any boomer who is looking for work and they’ll tell you, their facing the same difficulties. Millennials may think boomers should step aside at the “retirement age”, but they should know retirement is an outdated concept. Regardless of boomers wanting to continue working, some need to continue working to support the growing demands of years of retirement. But more to the point, let’s just address the absurdity of the concept of stealing a job. No boomer is going out looking to swipe a job from a younger worker. Worstall explains in very simple terms, “The number of jobs in an economy is set not by the amount of work there is to do. It’s set by the aggregate demand in that economy.”

The truth is, as boomers “selfishly” remain in the workforce, they are not taking jobs from younger workers but in fact creating new ones. A report on this topic explains that when older workers remains at work, new jobs are more likely to form; “Academic and historical evidence shows that, far from damaging job prospects, keeping more older people in work is associated with rising employment and wages for younger people”. Alas, there is no sinister plot to keep millennials out of work. No, this knowledge isn’t likely to stop the complaint from being voice, but you can rest a little easier knowing unequivocally—they are wrong about boomers.