The Baby Boomers -Understanding Multi-Generational Workforces (Part 2)
In our last newsletter edition, we began the discussion about the reality of people living longer, thus changing the landscape of the workforce picture. Presently there is the possibility of working with up to five different generations. This multi-generational reality brings diversity to the workforce. It also brings more need to understand each other from a perspective of where each person comes from and how they prefer to work. Difference across the generations show up in communication, approaches to working, how the “job” is viewed, values and needs. Learning about other people’s preferences gives each person an opportunity to individualize the approach to align with the person with whom they are connecting. In the last edition we talked about the Traditionalist who are mostly retired. In this article we will cover the baby boomers.
The baby boomers were born between 1945 and 1964. This was the largest generation until just recently when the millennials slightly surpassed them. Unlike their parents, these are the children of the WWII veterans who grew up in good economic times. This generation became the “me” generation because their parents wanted their children to have more than they had experienced growing up. The Boomers are big trendsetters (hippies, yuppies, graying of the workforce).
Here are things to remember when working with a person from the Baby Boomer generation. Boomers value peer competition and, at times, come across as egocentric. They thrive on new possibilities and constant change and believe in growth and expansion. This generation brought in the ‘workaholic’ trend when they invented the 50-hour work week. They value company commitment and loyalty and work hard because they believe you must do so in order to get to the next level of success. Their parents, the Traditionalists’, worked hard because they believed it to be the right thing to do. This generation does value success and works to climb the ladder of success. They tend towards collaboration, embracing a team-based approach. They don’t value the “rules” for the sake of having rules and will challenge rules (and authority) that don’t make sense and will question traditional roles. However, they tend to desire to hold higher ranks. They are accepting of people as long as they perform to their standards. And even though they don’t like conflict, they will fight for causes.
Supportive behaviors and tips for communicating with the Baby Boomers include remembering they are the “show me” generation so be conscientious of your body language when communicating. Communicate in an open, direct and noncontrolling way. Boomers will have questions so come prepared for sharing more details and information. In the theme of collaboration, come in with options that show flexibility.
The Boomers seek to prove their worth and to be asked for their input and expertise. Validating the Boomer generation comes from public recognition and awards for their work ethic, receiving perks in keeping with their professional status, and building name recognition in the company through their projects and input.
As the longest-living largest generation in history, you may be a Boomer or work with a Boomer. Understanding the generation gives information and allows us to know how we need to flex and approach each other when working together. Consider approaching the boomer from their preference style for more efficiency in getting projects done. This allows the work environment up to be congenial and effective, which is not only good for the bottom line in a company but also good for those working in the environment.
Clayton, S., & Vargas, J. (2006, February 8). Generations at work. Retrieved from Work Life Solutions.
National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association. Tips to improve interaction among the generations. (2018, March 8). www.honolulu.hawaii.edu/. Retrieved from Work Life Solutions.
Tags: babyboomers in the workforce, Babyboomers in the workforce and their preference, how to work efficiently with a babyboomer, Working with the generation span
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Licensed Independent Clinical Social Worker
Licensed Independent Mental Health Practitioner
- Janie Pfeifer Watson, LICSW, is the founder and director of Wholeness Healing Center, a mental health practice in Grand Island, Nebraska with remote sites in Broken Bow and Kearney. Her expertise encompasses a broad range of areas, including depression, anxiety, attachment and bonding, coaching, couples work, mindfulness, trauma, and grief. She views therapy as an opportunity to learn more about yourself as you step more into being your authentic self. From her perspective this is part of the spiritual journey; on this journey, she serves as a mirror for her clients as they get to know themselves—and, ultimately, to love themselves.
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