Millennials and Baby Boomers Converging in the Workplace

As much as people may like to ignore the issue, the convergence of millennials and baby boomers in the workplace – particularly in positions of leadership and management – has caused ripples. But contrary to what some people say, these ripples are largely positive.

How Organizations are Easing the Transfer of Leadership

Is your organization going through a new stage where millennials are beginning to climb rungs of the corporate ladder? Do you sense that the differences in work style and philosophy between senior members of management and younger millennials will be a problem? Well, they don’t have to be.

Here are some things you need to know:

1. Consider Your Management Structure

“Millennials are eschewing the traditional top-down management structure and moving to a flat organizational structure with a more democratic approach to decision-making. Flattened organizations have fewer titles, but millennials believe that true leaders don’t need titles and can demonstrate their ability by leading a project or campaign,” explains Christian Galliani of Jay Suites.

While you can’t necessarily revamp your entire management structure overnight, there should be some serious attention given to moving from strict hierarchies to flatter organizational structures that allow for widespread involvement.

2. Learning and Development Should be Prioritized

Despite being the most educated generation in history, millennials are interested in continuing to learn even more as they go. It wouldn’t be a stretch to say that they’re addicted to learning and see formal education as the top method of improvement.

“As such, offering a good learning environment is the fastest way to millennial hearts,” says Lenny DeFranco of Grovo. “Training and development is 50% more popular than cash and three times as popular as a 401(k) or pension among millennials. L&D is consistently reported as one of the top three benefits millennials consider when choosing to stay at a job.”

3. Feedback Not Annual Reviews

For the most part, baby boomers love annual reviews. It’s not so much that they love the idea of being critiqued for the previous year’s work – rather, they feel like it’s the best way to be evaluated. They’ve grown up in a work environment where annual reviews are commonplace and, therefore, find them comfortable.

Millennials hate annual reviews. They prefer immediate and honest feedback in the moment. They don’t want to wait weeks or months to receive a review. They see performance reviews as too formal and highly ineffective. Perhaps now is a good time to gradually move away from them.

4. Flexibility Matters

Work-life balance is something that all generations have claimed they want, but millennials are the first group to really prioritize it. This is largely due to the fact that technology has finally caught up with the desire for flexibility. In order to appease this pursuit of balance, Organizations can offer more flexible work policies.

As Brianna Steinhilber writes for NBC News, “The optimal engagement boost occurs when employees spend 60 to 80 percent of their time – or three to four days in a five-day workweek – working off-site.”

This sort of remote working policy may not be practical for your organization, but don’t underestimate the value of flexible scheduling. Even most baby boomers are on board with the idea.

Millennials are the Future

In 10 or 15 years, millennials will not only represent the majority in the workforce, but they’ll also account for the majority of leadership and management positions in most organizations. So, instead of trying to fight the inevitable, it’s important that baby boomers work with millennials to facilitate a smooth transfer of leadership.

Once businesses begin to establish common ground and allow for a healthy compromise between millennials and boomers, it’ll become clear that the differences between these two groups aren’t that significant. In fact, they’re often complementary.

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn’t know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.