Boomers’ Love/Loathe Relationship with Millennials and How to Overcome the Generational Divide

You’ve heard the stereotypes about Millennials: lacking attention span, overdependent on technology, self-centered, ignorant of older generations, entitled – and so on.

Not only are these statements inaccurate, but these myths also stem from the difference between how Millennials work versus how Boomers work. In a recent Forbes article, Boomers’ Love/Loathe Relationship With Millennials, Eisenberg interviews Stiller Rikleen, executive-in-residence at the Boston College Center For Work & Family and president of the Rikleen Institute for Strategic Leadership, about the recent survey she conducted among 1000 Millennials.

Rikleen’s findings were consistent with the outcome of the Class of 2014 survey that ConnectEDU and Achievers partnered on to understand exactly what the next generation of top talent is looking for from their future organizations. The verdict is that many of the stigmas that Boomers associate with Millennials are actually not negative; they are simply representative of an evolving workplace.

Here are a few (seemingly) negative stigmas about Millennials that Stiller Rikleen addresses in her interview, along with tactical takeaways for HR professionals and employers to apply in the workplace to bridge the style gap between Boomers and Millennials:

Millennials demand constant feedback.
Are Millennials looking for more frequent feedback? Absolutely. Is this a bad thing? Absolutely not. While older generations have perceived this need for constant feedback to only be self-fulfilling for Millennials, constant feedback also drives business results. Yes, Millennials are eager to use frequent feedback to get ahead, but recognizing Millennials for great performance and making recommendations for improvement also keeps them engaged and the business booming.

Boomers are resistant to give feedback.
In the historical workplace, the only appropriate and designated time to give feedback was in an annual performance review. Saying that Boomers are resistant to give feedback doesn’t describe the full picture. In fact, Boomers come from a work generation where structured feedback was the only type of feedback that was delivered to their teams. With Millennials now in the workplace reporting to Boomers, Boomers should be conscious to share timely feedback with their team members. This can occur in one-on-one meeting, by embracing a “coachable moment,” or even during a quick coffee break in the kitchen. Feedback drives better results for employees, managers, and the company overall.

There is a disconnect between what Millennials value and what Boomers think they value.
In the traditional workplace, it was common for employees to stay with companies for their entire careers and get recognized and rewarded for their length of tenure. But in the modern workplace, new employees will work with many different companies and want to be recognized and rewarded for their contributions, regardless of how long they’ve been there. Instead of recognizing Millennials with the predetermined rewards Boomers have been accustomed to, give Millennials the freedom to set goals and choose their own rewards for big achievements. Then, use day-to-day recognitions for the wins in between.

Learn more about what the Class of 2014 wants from their future employers and how your business can bridge the gap between Boomers and Millennials.

Download our Class of 2014 whitepaper.

Class of 2014: Your Next Generation of Top Talent

 

Blog post originally written by Stephanie White, edited and published by Julia Bersin.

1 reply
  1. Lolly
    Lolly says:

    Yes to this: “recognizing Millennials for great performance and making recommendations for improvement also keeps them engaged and the business booming.” Providing employees with constant/on-going feedback and recognition will hopefully become second nature to more and more companies. It is essential for growth and development, and retaining talent.

    I really like your suggestion of giving Millennials the freedom to choose their rewards because they’ll be even more motivated to be successful!

    I touched a bit on similar points in a recent article on employee engagement. Would love to hear what you think http://bit.ly/1nMLoMS:)

    Best,

    Lolly

    Reply

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