We saw this article on 99u.com by Nathanial Koloc with the title “Why Baby Boomers and Millennials Make Great Teams” and thought…oh yeah….we have to blog about this. So Ashley, a Millennial, who is our Community Impact Director and Jennifer, a Boomer, who is Vice President of Marketing and Communications decided to share their thoughts together in this post! Note that in spite of their age difference, the two share a love of pop culture and reality TV!
Basically the article said that each generation, while seemingly opposite, had great traits to bring to the table: Millennials are tech-savvy and idealistic while Boomers have skills, knowledge and wisdom. Millennials have potential, Boomers have experience.
Here’s how we see it:
Things that I have learned from the Baby Boomer generation:
1. Experience is everything. – As a Millennial, I definitely don’t know everything, especially when it comes to the workplace. Though sometimes you will catch me professing that I do! However, when paried with someone from the Baby Boomer generation, I know that they have been where I am and probably where I want to be. Baby Boomers are great for building mentoring realtionships as well as a listening post when my views of the “real world” haven’t gone quite the way I planned. This group brings so many life experiences to the table when having key discussions taht everyone around the table listens.
2. It’s okay to be dedicated to a job/cause/etc. – So yes, my generation has a tiny tendency to be flaky with jobs. In a report done by Future Workplace “Multiple Generations at Work” survey in 2012, 91% of Millennials are said to remain on a job for less than three years. This means by the time I am retirement age, I will have had, in theory, 20 jobs!!!! Now, that’s not necessarily a bad thing as I will gain experience from all the jobs and have the freedom that I want to “spread my wings”. The downside is that with this freedome that I so desperately want, it will not help me gain financial security as my generation is the worst in this area more than any other generation in the past 50 years. Also, jumping ship does not teach mea bout having longevity and understanding true workplace dynamics.
3. Working hard always pays off. – Work ethic is critical to any job, no matter age, genration, etc. People of the Baby Boomer generation have showed us “young people” that sacrifice is needed when trying to accomplish a goal. Though being consumed with work can sometimes be daunting, there is always a means to an end. With a sense of independence, which my generation seems to forget from time to time, Baby Boomers are confident and self-reliant and are not afraid to challenge the status quo. Because of their hard work, Baby Boomers are more ready to give their opinions to situations at hand.
So, here are the things I don’t get about Millennials:
1) Failure is okay. Huh? People tell me they grew up as the generation who, although on a losing team, still received a trophy. In my day it was black or white; one winner, all the rest were losers.
2) Their job isn’t their top priority. Huh? My son told me one time that if he needed to leave work early to pick up his child from day care then he’d get up and walk out of a meeting because his daughter came first. Well my kids came first too but leaving work early to get ‘my kid’ as my excuse never sat well with the boss.
3) They want to know what’s-in-it-for-them when it comes to their job. Huh? It’s called a paycheck – what more do you think you should get? What’s this personal growth and development stuff?
So, here’s what I’ve learned from Millennials:
1) Failure is okay. Sigh…what a relief! Millennials have shown me I can try and fail and try again without punishment or repercussions – just so I keep trying to achieve!
2) Their job isn’t their top priority. And mine shouldn’t be either – because there is so much more to a balanced life. Millennials have shown me through their priorities of work and play and varied interests and learning opportunities, they can easily recharge themselves and bring in fresh ideas, more creativity and a positive attitude to the office. Beats the old days of trying to recover from burnout!
3) They want to know what’s-in-it-for-them…and now I do, too! Because while a paycheck and benefits are vital…so are things like an opportunity to be a part of an organization with a great mission or great corporate social responsibility I can get behind; chances to attend classes, seminars and conferences to expand my knowledge and branch out into new arenas; and the time to become a part of a work team that collaborates in an atmosphere of trust and who all want to move their company to a new level.
Here at United Way of the Triangle it is a new day and rather than work in side-by-side departments, we are now each part of collaborative teams that tackle issues and challenges together…each bringing not only our expertise to the table but also the traits of our age group (Millennials, Gen X, Gen Y, Boomers) to shine a light on multiple ways to approach our work.
That new way of working also helps us with our community collaborations throughout the Triangle and the diverse audiences we engage with every day. When we keep an open mind to all who share, no matter what age or background, we can continue to learn and understand and personally grow.
It’s different, it’s exciting, it’s challenging…but most of all IT’S WORKING!