I have always been fascinated by the study of generations – maybe because I worked so long on a college campus and could see the differing attitudes and values of the students over time. In keeping with using the dot number (1946) as the inspiration for the content, today I share information about the Baby Boomer generation, so named because there was such an influx of babies after soldiers returned home from World War II.
The years between 1946 and 1964 are categorized as the Baby Boomer generation, representing about one-quarter of today’s workforce. Baby Boomers grew up in an era of prosperity following World War II and lived through Vietnam, landing on the moon and rock ‘n roll. Boomers experienced the Cold War and Woodstock as well as civil rights protests and the women’s movement. Their sheer numbers have made them a force in the economy.
There is much written today about working among the generations as four or five different groups are simultaneously employed. Boomers, who now are primarily in their 50s and 60s, are often supervising Generation X, Millennials (Generation Y) or Generation Z – all of whom have different communication preferences, needs from work and lifestyles.
Those who work with (or for) Baby Boomers will find them to be comfortable with hierarchy and bureaucracy. They have been raised in a more linear world and organizational structure where there are rules to be followed and bosses to be obeyed. While not quite as traditional as the generation before them, many Boomers find their identity tied to their job and thus value the titles, rewards and prestige that come from career advancement. They have a strong work ethic and are willing to make sacrifices or compete against others to climb the career ladder, but strongly believe others should first pay their dues as well.
Baby Boomers can sometimes be resistant to change, fearing that the “new” will render their expertise (thus, them) less valuable. To succeed while working with a Baby Boomer, remember that they have grown up embracing face-to-face communication and value those in-person connections. Baby Boomers bring the wisdom that comes from experience to the workplace. Acknowledge and honor their experience in an in-person exchange and help them understand how meeting the different needs of a younger generation can make the whole team stronger. Boomers are used to learning in order to get ahead; help them learn from you.