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Four tips for baby boomers on working with millennials

Written by Lynne Makinson-Walsh on Thursday, 20 December 2018. Posted in Leadership, People

Employee engagement requires much more attention today as it’s your team which represents the business. So what can baby boomers do to make the culture and the workplace more conducive to their growth?

Four tips for baby boomers on working with millennials

There’s a well-documented skills shortage in the tech industry and it’s undeniably hard work to recruit – and most importantly to retain – a highly skilled and wonderful workforce. 

Somewhat stereotypically for the tech industry, the majority are under 30 and emphatically millennial. Drawing on my experience with this demographic for several years, I have taken home several learnings and what baby boomers can do when working with the generation. 

(1) Give them a say

Millennials have the ability to see the bigger picture. They’re the first demographic group to believe money isn’t everything when it comes to work – issues like employee wellbeing, supporting social causes is increasingly essential to them. And if you’re a baby boomer – you must allow them to shape the way business is done so you fit in with their expectations, rather than forcing them to fit in with yours. 

At Dreamr, we give our team the opportunity to feedback anonymously on what the management did well and what could be done better. This has been hugely effective in shaping and improving the business and providing team members the chance to have their say. For example, earlier this year, following feedback, we increased holiday entitlement by a full week and offered the flexibility to work the bank holidays taking time in lieu if desired.

Listening to the work force is key in any industry and many leaders are guilty of neglecting this important tool. Providing a platform for employees to tell you their thoughts as opposed to offering something more ad hoc, could help your business boom as well as keeping your team happy with a better motivation to be efficient. 

(2) Provide extra value and create a strong culture 

Creating a strong culture isn’t always about big gestures. Millennials rather appreciate the little things that add up and provide extra value. Providing free food always goes down well, whether it be breakfast, dial-out pizza for lunch or cake for birthdays.

An injection of fun into the working day also helps with creating an inclusive and caring culture. Holding pumpkin carving workshops at Halloween to create some fun for the team with baked cakes and Amaretto hot chocolate with a traditional blind mince pie tasting on Christmas are some ideas which in my experience have been successful. To recover in January, offering bespoke yoga sessions and discounted gym memberships are some more ideas which head honchos can implement.

Implementing a few perks such as free lattes, an office pool table and the occasional team tournament to inject some fun into the working week will do wonders for morale and team bonding. And it’s a known fact that a strong team is one of the main ingredients when preparing your business for success.

(3) Be proactive with professional development

Professional development is music to every ambitious millennial’s ears. Gaining extra skills, engaging in community projects adds the extra element which drives every millennial, given that they have a greater expectation of developing quickly into a more senior role. But it’s an expectation and doesn’t carry the same wow factor as it did when baby boomers were working their way through the ranks. 

Digital years are a bit like dog years in terms of pace, and pace is a must. The fast track and recognition are paramount.

(4) Accept that the world has changed and for the better

Exasperation with the changing world is useless. It is how it is and the older generation has to take responsibility for much of that. We’ve given Millennials high expectations, they might forget their work pass on a regular basis or key dates in history but they can tell you what the historical issues were and why it’s important to consider those things today. 

And as baby boomers, we wouldn’t want those exceptional brains to be wasted doing just the washing up, would we? 

About the Author

Lynne Makinson-Walsh

Lynne Makinson-Walsh

Lynne Makinson-Walsh is director of people and culture at Dreamr, an award-winning app development company based in Manchester, UK.  Lynne focuses on team development and employee wellbeing, ensuring that each member of the team is growing their skills as an individual and is engaged in the company values and team environment.

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