Not talking golf or sex. It’s almost too easy to miss the forest for the trees, but baby boomers are now part of 4 distinct generations in the workplace. If you are still working, it’s most likely alongside GenXers (1965-1980), GenYers (Millennials-1980-1996) and GenZers (1996-present).
This is a rare circumstance made stranger by the fact that it mixes digital immigrants (that would be us boomers) with digital natives (that would be millennials and GenZers who have been shaped by technology since birth).
The mixture of work traits is fascinating. Boomers can act as mentors which is something that millennials tend to want (praise and reassurance were hallmarks of helicopter parenting). On the downside, boomers may find it hard to keep up with the technology and there’s those pesky health-wellness issues. Younger workers tend to have greater respect for hierarchy and authority thanks to social media peer pressure (how many Facebook friends one has or how many likes your Instagram post gets has left an indelible impression on them). On the downside however, they can be prone to ghosting (i.e. just disappearing from the workplace rather than giving notice), which is something absolutely foreign to mature workers.
Younger workers exhibit more impatience and shorter attention spans. Technology has inured them to receive instant gratification and the workplace often cannot respond well to that.
For employers, the trick is to meld the 4 generations and tap into each’s strengths and skills. It sounds like it could be a 4-ring circus, but for those employers that get it right, they could have an incredibly productive multi-generational workforce that can best the competition.
You could worry about this and lose sleep over it, but the bigger concern is the wave of robots that’s going to replace old and young alike. By 2030, some 800 million workers worldwide are projected to have been replaced by artificial intelligence and robots. In other words, take the Alfred E. Neuman approach. What me worry?
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.