Generational Diversity in the Workplace: Baby Boomers

As discussed in our first Generational Diversity in the Workplace blog post, there are now four distinct generations working side-by-side in the workplace. Each one is different, and understanding how to recruit, retain and inspire each generation is key to success. In this post, we address the Baby Boomer generation.

Baby Boomers, born 1946-1964, were born after World War II and reached adulthood in the tumultuous 1960s. They are full of vitality, leadership skills and conviction.

Infused with their parents’ solid work ethics, Boomers tend to be career-focused and status-conscious. They were raised in a time when events such as the human rights movement and the Watergate scandal caused many to question authority. As a result, Boomers tend to be more inquisitive. These individuals are very independent, goal-oriented and focused on their career. Many Baby Boomers that retire early find themselves eager to return to the workplace.

Education and Experience

About 29 percent of Baby Boomers have college degrees and an additional 30 percent have attended some college classes. Baby Boomers prefer to learn in formal, structured and hierarchical environments, so in-person classroom training and instruction is typically most effective.

Boomer Qualities

Baby Boomers are happy to mentor the next generation, a fact that will help close the huge management gap that will result from 78 million Boomers eventually leaving the workforce. Boomers possess unparalleled management skills, pragmatism, decision-making skills, and a commitment to work that keeps them at their desks 60 hours a week. They can seem a little demanding to younger employees who value a better balance of life and work.

Recruiting Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers are not aggressive job seekers. However, companies can find them through recruiting services, job boards and on more professional and passive networking websites like LinkedIn. Referral programs and telephone sourcing strategies are also effective means of recruiting Baby Boomers. Because many Baby Boomers are homeowners, they are likely to be reluctant to relocate. However, they will respond to an offer of financial security, retirement benefits and health incentives.

Retaining Baby Boomers

Many Baby Boomers are likely to be workaholics, defined by their career status, and willing to push boundaries in the workplace. They are social and optimistic by nature, but the tumult in the economy threatens their retirement and has left them nervous about the future. Offer short-term financial rewards and incentives, part – or full-time work depending on their needs, and the opportunity to mentor younger workers. Job autonomy is a huge factor in job satisfaction for Baby Boomers.

Inspiring Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers like to be acknowledged through raises and promotions. They pace a lot of value in – and put a lot of money into – relationships. They are accommodating of technology and prefer formal communication styles and in-person meetings. Boomers respond well to coaching and look for learning opportunities. Give them respect and autonomy and they will reward you with hard work. To inspire them, put a problem on their desk and walk away. They are imaginative problem solvers and they don’t care to be micro-managed. Give them the power to make decisions, listen to their ideas and respect their opinions.

In our next Generational Diversity blog post, we will discuss Generation X. For more insight or to add new talent to your workforce, contact your local Special Counsel branch.

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