Boomers vs. Millennials – Corporate Culture and the New Workforce Generation

The workplace is more diverse than ever with different nationalities, genders, races, ages coming together to work, train and collaborate. While seemingly opposite, baby boomers and millennials actually have quite a few things in common. Each has a great work ethic. While each go about their work in a different way, both are determined to produce a great product. Still, it can be challenging for older generations to adapt to the millennial mindset.

Because of upbringings and economic circumstances that each generation experienced growing up, their work styles vary greatly. Millennials are more inclined to look for a workplace with a flat organizational structure and they’re not afraid to take on more responsibility. Boomers, on the other hand, value “paying your dues” and working to climb the ladder after proving their capabilities and loyalties.   Millennials are more comfortable with technology and digging in to find answers themselves. 

Transferring corporate culture to millennials can be a challenge. With the different attitudes and commitments, the two generations work together well.  The boomers bring the history and knowledge of the company, products and processes.  The millennials bring a new vision using technology and push to make processes more streamlined.  They want a work life balance and don’t envision putting in 60 hour work weeks.  Their commitment is more focused on family and leisure so their need to streamline processes is important to them.

While millennials make up a larger population of the workforce, there’s a high probability that they are managed by a boomer.  Building a mentoring program can very quickly bring interesting and valuable results from this uniquely different group of people.

Boomers can mentor millennials on the importance of history, customer care and respect in the workplace.  Millennials can teach their mentor how to effectively utilize technology to increase performance and productivity without diminishing quality.  These mentoring programs produce a higher performing team overall and strengthens the bond between them while increasing their loyalty to the company.  Recognizing the strength and importance that both groups bring quietly returns a more motivated team.   

Sometimes retaining millennials can challenge corporations.  Unlike boomers, who stayed at their job for years, millennials go where they think they can be most appreciated and recognized for their value.  This means faster promotions within a company.  This also means that offering remote and flexible work schedules.   With the COVID pandemic, this remote work environment has become something that a very large percentage of workers are demanding. 

Unlike baby boomers, millennials are more inclined to job hop every few years. One study shows that 60% of millennials are open to a different job opportunity, versus non-millennials coming in 15 percentage points lower. Since millennials aren’t motivated by company loyalty, they need to offer a work environment that prioritizes a supportive, flexible, remote and innovative culture. 

Interestingly the most important workplace benefit for millennials is development. Above all, they want to learn to achieve more from their job and they want to build on their skill sets so their value is increased, ultimately to move up the ladder.  When companies provide quality professional development programs they see more employee engagement, see increased production and quality while experiencing less staff turnover.