There’s more talk than ever in the workplace about tapping the baby boomer knowledge base before they are out the door. Smart companies and organizations began this process years ago, but now the leading edge of the boomer generation is getting serious about leaving the workplace for good. Okay, maybe they will take part-time jobs as crossing guards just to say active, but they will be saying so long to sophisticated careers.
The chasm between the oldest and youngest workers, that is boomers and millennials, is fifty years. 50! Bridging a gap that large is no easy feat but smart organizations have been doing this for a while now and have developed some useful techniques.
It starts with what some call Tribal Knowledge Transfer. Simply put, you get the boomers to tell the millennials all their secrets and tips. Most of it can be done with mentoring, but there will not always be a grey head to talk to. To address that issue, organizations are tapping older workers’ knowledge base and putting it down in writing.
Reverse Mentoring is another technique that taps the knowledge base of millennials and engages them with boomers in a way that builds respect across the generational divide. Putting the generations together in the same room allows for mindsets to rub off on each other. The reverence for work that boomers have can influence millennials, while millennial reverence for a work-life balance can rub off on boomers. Everyone wins.
The third strategy is Building Resiliency and that has almost nothing to do with boomers other than the hope that their loyalty to the career rubs off on millennials who are known for their high rates of turnover. Organizations that can eke out more than a one or two-year commitment from millennial employees are helping to boost their productivity.
Intergenerational Communication is another piece of the puzzle. A diverse generational mix within the organization is going to make it a lot easier to communicate the organization’s goals or product benefits.
Bridges are not easy to build, especially with a span of fifty years. But those organizations that put in the work to make it happen are the organizations that may still be around in fifty years, when the boomers are long gone.
Jay Harrison is a graphic designer and writer whose work can be seen at DesignConcept. His mystery novel, Head Above Water, is available on Amazon and Kindle. You can also visit his author page here.