Millennials and Boomers: Together in the Workforce

Millennials at Work

The 73 million young adults currently 18 to 34 years old, often referred to as millennials, comprises the largest such population in the last three decades (United States Census, 2014).  We hear so much about this group of people and some things are myths, while others have merit.  What we do know as a fact is that millennials are entering the workforce faster than we can keep up.

“Per American Staffing Association (June 2016), by 2025, millennials will make up a whopping 75% of the workforce—that is a lot of workers! On the job, they get much of their satisfaction from being involved in work with a purpose. Outside of work they are attuned to socially responsible brands.” If a talent firm, like C2G Partners, recruiting and retaining millennial talent is becoming (and will continue to be) exceedingly important for both internal corporate positions as well as consulting, temporary and contract positions. Because this segment of the population is socially conscious, a good way to attract (and retain) millennials is by being a good corporate citizen. Corporate Social Responsibility includes working from home to reduce traffic and pollution.

Is there backlash from older employees against millennials, or do they have a valid point?

Wall Street Journal (04/16/17) Jacob Gershman:  PricewaterhouseCoopers bills itself as the “place to work for Millennials,” but the firm’s aggressive pursuit of Generation Y is now the focus of a class-action lawsuit, part of an emerging wave of litigation that is testing the boundaries of age-discrimination liability. The named plaintiffs in the PwC case are two males—one 53 years old and the other 47—whose applications for entry-level associate positions at the company were rejected even though both have years of accounting and bookkeeping experience. They allege they were turned down because they lacked the youthful profile possessed by so many PwC recruits—a form of favoritism, the suit alleges, that violates the Age Discrimination in Employment Act. PwC attorneys counter that the plaintiffs’ reading of the law conflicts with Congress’ intent.

Baby Boomers, Gen Xers, Millennials, and Gen Y’s must all cohabit the same workspace, and in small companies, this is more pronounced.  Here are a few ways they can learn from each other:

  • They both demand flexible work arrangements. The millennial wants to work from home because they want the flexibility to do things outside of the company and that gives them time after work to have fun.  Boomers want to work from home because they cannot tolerate the 90-hour work week any longer.  They are both pushing the agenda on flexible work options.
  • According to PeopleBiz Inc., there is an article in Entrepreneur, where one company found that “more millennials (79%), found ‘team’ or ‘culture’ building activities in their organization significantly helped retain talent, while only 46% of baby boomers (aged 51-60) felt the same. Asked if team building was worth the time and effort, 88% of the millennial employees responded positively, versus just 76% of boomers.” Culture is important to them.
  • Use the ‘buddy’ system to partner a millennial with a Baby Boomer. They can swap skills and learn from each other.  The millennial can teach the Boomer about technology – something simple like how to add apps to their phone – while Boomers can teach Millennials about how to become a great people manager.

Retention of workers of all generations will be vital to the success of organizations in the future.  Human Resource Departments need to pay increasing attention to helping organizations manage this shift (Eversole, 20121).  Because Human Resources touches every part of the business, small or large, it is primed for using their position to make an impact on the company.

1Eversole, Barbara A., Venneberg, Donald L., and Crowder, Cindy L. (2012).  Creating a Flexible Organizational Culture to Attract and Retain Talented Workers Across Generations.