Mixing Millennials and Boomers: The generation gap at work

With four generations working together in the same offices, the question arises: can they interact without much friction? There are a few ways each worker can benefit and learn from their co-workers.

Gen Z, Millennials, Gen X and Boomers are now working together in the office. But can all of them work together happily? Can grandpa actually work side-by-side with someone the age of their grandchild?

Lisa Bates recently retired from nursing after 38 years and says she was the most experienced.

“I was always older than everybody that I worked with,” Bates said.

Almost half of all Baby Boomers say they disagree with Millennials’ work practices. While a quarter of older workers are seen as out of touch by younger colleagues. But are we really all that different?

“Generations tend to want many of the same things. They tend to want to have control. They tend to want to have autonomy over how they accomplish their job, and they tend to want respect,” states Matthew Ng, a doctoral student at UCF.

Managers need to facilitate conversations with their employees. Let each one know what the other has to offer.

“The older employees often have way more experience and exposure,” says Ng.

Reverse mentoring is also becoming popular, giving the younger employee opportunities to find new ways to approach old problems. Create diverse teams and provide opportunities for the different generations to get to know each other, they both may end up learning a lot.

“I learned so much from all the young kids, like, oh my gosh, so many cultural things that I, you lost touch with that. That’s the best part about working with young people is,” said Bates.

One of the biggest frustrations for workers under 30 is with outdated technology and 27% of Millennials dislike emails as a form of communication and prefer fact-to-face or phone conversations.