Boomers and Millennials Define the New Workplace

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Boomers and Millennials Define the New Workplace

Many businesses are still operating in "recession mode," even though we're well into the business of recovery.  This means that a lot of managers are still looking around the workplace, trying to figure out who to let go or how to institute mandatory days off or pay cuts.  Their mode of thinking is focused on the past rather than the future. 

This means that they are going to be blindsided as the recovery accelerates and the new challenge becomes attracting, nurturing, and retaining the talent necessary to sustain growth.  When they do wake up to that need, however, they will be faced with a world that has changed while they were looking the other way.  The entire business of attracting and managing talent has been rapidly transforming. 

What's driving these changes?  The simple answer is demographics. 

The Baby Boom generation was followed into the workplace by the Baby Bust generation, also known as Generation X.  As the 77 million Boomers begin to reach traditional retirement age today, the next group, called Generation Y, is entering the workforce.  While Generation X was relatively small, Generation Y is large, some 70 million according to a report in USA Today.1  Depending on the precise definition, the number for Gen Y could be as high as 90 million — larger than the Baby Boom generation. 

At the same time that these so-called "Millennials" are entering the workplace, the Baby Boomers are refusing to retire.  In the view of the Boomers, 85 is the new 65, so why leave work?  The result is that 60-year-olds are working alongside 20-year-olds.  In some cases, very recent college graduates find themselves in charge of people who could be their grandparents. 

Significantly, the Millennials are a type of worker not seen before.  In the old model, the one that Baby Boomers experienced for the most part, the boss was the boss, and if you worked hard and did what you were told, you could rise through the ranks and become the boss yourself. 

In the new model, Millennials change jobs when they feel like it, strive for high performance, believe in their own worth, and have a sense of entitlement that makes them more demanding.  They think their ideas are just as good as the boss's ideas — sometimes better.  They were pampered and allowed to question their parents and teachers, so why not the boss?  If the boss doesn't like it, they'll find another boss.  Better still, they might simply walk away and start their own business. 

They're financially savvy, with nearly half of them starting their retirement savings before they're 25 years old, according to a survey by Diversified Investment Advisors...

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