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4 ways millennials and baby boomers make the dream team

Transparency is a good way to ensure any partnership is off to a good start.
By Rick Villalpando |


Baby boomers are entering their encore careers at the same time millennials are breaking into theirs, and both generations are looking for work that is meaningful. Millennials are now the largest generation in the Canadian workforce. And Statistics Canada reports that the number of seniors staying in the workforce was 25.5% in 2013, jumping from 15.5% in 2003. 



Since more boomers are working beyond retirement age these days, they are becoming coworkers with millennials. At RAMMP Hospitality Brands Inc., more than 50% of our employees are millennials. With 13% of baby boomers in our office, we have learned what is often overlooked is a synergy between the two generations that can make for a win-win partnership.


Related: 7 Ways to Bridge the Boomer-Millennial Gap



Keep it real.

Forty percent of American baby boomers stayed at their job for 20 years or more. In contrast, two in three millennials are planning to leave their jobs by 2020. If they do not feel a connection to the work that they are doing, millennials will not hesitate to make a move. 


Millennials are a generation motivated by authenticity and purpose. They want to know that they are making a difference beyond the walls of their cubicles. Do not wait until you have found your newest employee to share your company’s values. Conveying your office culture can start as early as the interview process.  At SteakhouseCasual, we get innovative and give candidates a real-world project to complete and present at the interview. The enthusiasm and creativity they put into the project can reveal if they are a natural fit for your team.



Transparency is a good way to ensure any partnership is off to a good start. Open up the interview to include a tour of the office. You can even challenge them to a game of ping pong or fruit ninja. Not only will you see how nimble their reflexes are, your potential employee will see that a successful day in the office is more than slaving away at their desk. They will see how creativity is also sparked by slaying virtual oranges and ping pong balls.



Be a mentor, not a manager.

Millennials are getting established later in life. Be it millennials in their early 20s who are getting started or those in their 30’s who are reaching a new career plateau, Gen Y is encountering many of the same challenges that boomers have already worked through in their career journey.


Related: 5 Ways for Boomer Managers to Motivate Millennial Workers



Whether it is dealing with a difficult employee or navigating client expectations around a challenging project, millennials are hungry for guidance. They are looking for a mentor who will challenge their thinking and support them with suggestions. As for the boomers, they have successfully clocked 30 plus years of experience and have numerous lessons worthy of sharing.


As a mentor, boomers are more than managers, they are in a position where they can offer relevant peer to peer feedback. Millennials do not want to wait for their next bi-annual review to find out that a presentation they delivered six months ago could have been executed differently. They are looking for the same coaching relationship within a working environment that they were used to growing up—and they will not hesitate to ask for it. 



Digital natives vs. digital immigrants.

Enter the millennials, who activate Siri to type a text or Snapchat their way through their day, documenting stories from their breakfast right up to dinner and their workouts in between.



Baby boomers like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates may have invented the technology, which millennials do not recall a time they had to live without; but many baby boomers in the twilight of their careers are digital immigrants when it comes to technology. This can prove to be a challenge as communication—be it sales, operations or marketing—is increasingly online rather than offline.


Related: Are Millennials too Reliant on Technology to Fund Their Future?


Millennials are raw resources for baby boomers when it comes to staying relevant in the digital space. Whether it is filming a behind-the-scenes video of a team brainstorm, hosting a Twitter chat, monitoring Reddit threads or using Canva to layout a profile of your staff spotlight, leverage Gen Y’s digital smarts to ensure your business stays current.



Flexibility beyond the 9-to-5.

Many boomers would still prefer to pick up the phone to get in touch. Millennials, on the other hand, are texting more and talking less. This difference in communication styles also translates to approaches to work.



As boomers value face-to-face contact, many may find it hard to adjust to the concept of working from home. Yet, millennials’ ideal workday is not always a 9 to 5. They are checking their emails on their phone after hours, or staying connected on social media to engage with clients. Being flexible requires a level of trust that goes both ways.


Millennials should be able to get the job done without abusing the trust of their boomer boss. Both generations should have enough room and space to get the job done in a way that can fit around their respective lifestyles.




Copyright © 2016 Entrepreneur Media, Inc. All rights reserved.

This article originally appeared on Minor edits have been done by the editors.


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