By Preston Ingalls
In my first article on Baby Boomers, I shared the financial reality of Boomers. Technically, it is an individual born between 1946 and 1964. That makes up 20 percent of all Americans. Our generation brought to the world Rock and Roll, Woodstock, Vietnam, divorce as an acceptable alternative to marriage, two-income families, the Women’s Movement, mass consumerism, television, credit cards, Disneyland, and an emphasis on social equality.
BOOMERS IN THE WORKPLACE
In this article, I want to share some observations and recommendations in dealing with Boomers in the workplace. First, understand the workplace has a strong purpose in the Boomers’ world. Boomers represent less than 44 percent of the U.S. population, but in the next 5 years, they’re projected to hold 70 percent of U.S. disposable income and buy 50 percent of total consumer-packaged goods. According to AARP, Baby Boomers spend roughly $7 trillion per year on goods and services and, in fact, own 80 percent of the country’s personal net worth.
According to Transamerica, 65 percent of Baby Boomers plan to work past age 65 or do not plan to retire and 34 percent plan to continue working for enjoyment. The reality is many have to. Most do not have adequate retirement savings. As many as 60 percent of Baby Boomers are assisting their aging parents in some way, including paying bills and helping them purchase groceries. Additionally, more than 90 percent of the Boomers surveyed have provided some kind of support to their adult children, including paying tuition, loans, car payments, or basic expenses like utilities and rent. More than half have allowed their adult children to live at home rent free. The fact is, Boomers plan to stay in the workplace far longer than their parents.
VALUES AND MOTIVES
Understanding their values and motives may help to get along with them. For instance, Boomers’ value on visibility is far more than subsequent generations like Gen X, Gen Y, or Gen Z. The Boomer generation is less likely to embrace remote work or work from home options than younger generations. For a Boomer, visibility is everything. Boomer wants their manager to see them showing up to work on time every day and working hard until the day ends. The stay-at-home practices from the pandemic are creating stress for Boomers, more so than other generations.
Boomers have a strong work ethic and expect to work hard as a lifestyle. In fact, their motto very well may be, “Live to Work” versus “Work to Live.” Work defines many, and a dedication to the workplace and camaraderie is one of the keys to happiness. Although it takes twice as long for Boomers to find a job than Gen X, Y, or Z, they value the social interaction and sense of purpose the workplace provides to their life.
Because of the need to work longer, Boomers will be more sensitive to savings and earning opportunities. This could be a strong motivator to many. This means a drive to work overtime, earn bonuses, etc.
Being visible also means many Boomers value professional attire more than other generations. This includes business casual over dressing down. Many Boomers judge others on their professional (or lack of) appearance.
While almost half of Boomers will use the smartphone to make purchases, they spend less time each week on social media than younger generations. Technology is seen more as a tool, much like seeing a car as a means of transportation means versus a lifestyle. Therefore, many have less inclination to learn all the nuances and techniques associated with the use of the technology.
BOOMER WAY OF LIFE
Baby Boomers take pride in the companies they work for, the positions they hold, and the duration or tenure with which they stay at the company. They will view others’ short tenures as “job hopping” more than younger generations.
Boomers are confident and extremely competitive. Since the Baby Boom produced such a large increase in the population, Boomers experienced strong competition for jobs. Most have carried their drive, ambition, and competitive nature throughout their careers. They will work as long as it takes to reach their goals and to stand out enough and get the promotion, raise, or recognition they need.
Boomer characteristics include independence, responsibility, and maturity. They have honed the ability to make up their own minds and determine what is most valuable or significant.
Baby Boomers have spent considerable time and effort approaching decision making as a technique and process, valuing A rational and objective approach over intuitive or rushed decisions. Many will examine pros and cons, weigh various factors, and examine alternatives at a slower pace than subsequent generations.
Boomers respond well to respect for their position and authority. Because of their experience, they appreciate being listened to and sharing opinions. Because of old-fashioned values, many expect younger workers to put in the time and effort to achieve success.
Baby Boomers value teamwork and consolidated effort over individual input. Many see the value in multiple heads attacking an issue versus one person’s efforts. Because of their experience and value toward teams, they will expect to be called upon for their opinions and ideas.
Many Boomers will tend to be optimistic, having seen the impact of their contributions to the growth of society and move toward equality and prosperity. Many will see the “glass as half-full” and look for the positive. But many Boomers will be somewhat apprehensive, having seen age discrimination and efforts by younger generations to push them aside.
Because of their self-sufficiency, many Boomers may hesitate to ask for help or assistance. They may feel it is a weakness and muddle through a task. They were raised on the idea of solving problems independently.
Boomers are goal-focused and overcome challenges with goals and objectives. Their competitive inclination also facilitates these characteristics.
Just as Boomers are different than their parents, the Silent and Great Generation, the Boomers are different than Gen x, Millennials, and Gen Z. But that is what makes the stew so rich; all the different elements that go into it. If you are working with a Boomer, it might help to understand what motivates them. John Barrymore once said, “A man is not old until regrets take the place of dreams.”
about the author:
Preston Ingalls is president and CEO of TBR Strategies, LLC, a Raleigh, North Carolina-based maintenance and reliability firm specializing in the construction and oil and gas industries. Preston can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Modern Contractor Solutions, June 2020
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