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Millennials and Baby Boomers in the Workplace: Overcoming Differences

Millennials and Baby Boomers in the Workplace: Overcoming Differences

When it comes to Millennials and Baby Boomers in workplace – what’s so different? When it comes to work style, Gen Y (or Millennials) and Baby Boomers are as different as night and day… or Janis Joplin and Ke$ha, if you will.

Whether you’re a Millennial, a Boomer, or even a manager trying to bridge the gap between the two, a little understanding can go a long way in making generational differences work in the workplace.

In an interview with Society for Human Resource Management, Bruce Tulgan, founder of RainmakerThinking put it this way; “We need to help folks better understand where people of different generations are coming from and where they are headed, learn to better appreciate those differences, and learn to leverage them.”

Here’s a quick outline of those generational differences:


Work Styles

Career Goals


Gen Y
Energy, ideas, productivity. Education versus experience (question authority). Relationships/Feedback. Casual.Money, Work-Life Balance, Change, Diverse ExperiencesFlexibility, Control, Productivity, Independence
Old fashioned work ethic. Climb corporate ladder based on experience. Commitment. Professionalism.Seniority, Secure Retirement, Expertise, Stable CareerSecurity, Hierarchy, Wisdom/Experience, Loyalty


Three tips to help bridge the generational gap between Gen Y and Baby Boomers:

1. Remember: it’s not personal –Keep in mind where the other generation is coming from and remember that, whatever annoyances arise, it’s not personal. If conflict arises, don’t respond as if you’re being attacked – instead, use it as an opportunity for conversation and learning. Keep your eye on the prize!

2. Focus on knowing and managing yourself – In the end, you can only control yourself and your own reaction to events. Be clear about who you are, what you offer, and what you ultimately want. What is it about your colleague that can complement what you offer and help you both achieve your goals?

3. Understand your role and shine – What is the natural role that you play? What skills support that role? The more focused these are, the more valuable you are in the workplace, and the easier it will be to communicate them to find your ideal fit. This is what people of any age will come to you and respect you for.


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*There is no general consensus re: dates for Gen Y so we refer to the broadest range. Narrower ranges include 1978-1989, 1981-1995, 1982-2004.




As Good.Co's Digital Marketing Manager, Lisa has the pleasure of spending her days engaging with the Good.Co community and talking, tweeting and blogging about workplace happiness. Say hi to Lisa on Twitter: @LisaChatroop