If you do a quick search for Millennials, you’ll be greeted by thousands of articles saying how they are killing different industries and generally not following the rules set out by the generations before.
At the same time, Baby Boomers are causing a huge stir because many of them are hitting retirement age. In fact, it’s estimated that 10,000 Baby Boomers reach retirement age every day, a trend that is supposed to continue for the next decade at least.
Both of these trends seem like opposing forces but the truth of the matter is that Boomers and Millennials – despite the massive time gap between them – can and should come together.
But why? They seem so different and – at times – at each other’s throats. Well, before we answer that, let’s look at the problem.
Boomers are living longer than any other generation before them, which means they are able to work much longer. For some, working in their current job is fun and meaningful. For others, they lack the needed funds to retire successfully or simply have no idea what a non-working life would look like.
Jump over to Millennials who are looking for good paying jobs to slowly eat away at their student loans while also providing them personal development and a specific lifestyle.
The real problem here is that many Millennials feel that they cannot stay at a certain company for too long because Boomers have clogged up the pipe, leaving no room to move up into leadership roles.
The reason for this is simple: healthy, financially stable Boomers are refusing to leave because of the lifestyle change that comes alongside retirement.
This poses a problem for HR: how can you plan a proper workforce when you cannot develop new talent and you cannot motivate ‘reluctant retirees’ to step down?
The answer is that you bring both groups together because they have a lot more in common than they think.
Consider this: Millennials are changing the way people work while Boomers are changing the way people retire. Both now want meaningful jobs and lifestyles that are not just a daily grind.
To develop Millennial talent, HR leaders should have them partner with Boomers who are in upper level positions, allowing Millennials to grow and also letting Boomers share their knowledge and groom the next generation of leaders.
At the same time, Millennials can show Boomers how to find new, part-time work with different companies, charities or whatever their hearts desire. They can show them how to harness the internet to open an Etsy store or work from home, for example. All of these things are second nature to Millennials but quite foreign to Boomers.
What this will do is cause the Millennials to gain the experience they need to lead companies on a corporate level and also motivate reluctant retirees to exit and do so with their heads held high.
Boomers and Millennials, it turns out, want the same thing in life: to do something they love and make a little money doing it. The gig economy is dominated by Millennials right now, but imagine how well a seasoned Boomer can do in that market if they wanted to.
The same goes for Millennials in the corporate arena. Not all young workers want to work at startups but many gravitate towards them because they at least line up with how they want to work. If Millennials are given leadership roles at traditional companies, they can make them more appealing to their peers and foster growth.
If the two generations refuse to work together, HR has a big problem on its hands across the country because Boomers will one day make a full exit and the companies that have no developed Millennial talent will be far behind those that do.