How Workplace Leaders Can Engage and Empower Baby Boomers
Whether they’re trying to grow their nest egg or they fear they’ll become restless without a set daily schedule, an increasing percentage of baby boomers are staying in the workforce well past the traditional retirement age. In fact, according to a Gallup poll, 49 percent of currently employed boomers don’t plan to retire until age 66 or older.
As of 2015, baby boomers accounted for 29 percent of the American workforce. Though many employers have focused on how to make their workplace Millennial-friendly, businesses must also ensure their older employees are equally as engaged.
Ignoring the needs of a working population of nearly 47 million people is a recipe for disaster. Here are four ways workplace leaders can engage and empower baby boomers.
Use the Most Fitting Management Style
Boomers find more fulfillment in their employment than younger generations and therefore tend to have longer tenures at jobs. As a result, they want a manager who values loyalty and acknowledges their commitment to their position. Baby boomers respond better to supervisors who take a democratic approach and treat them as equals. This generation also prefers face-to-face communication over electronic correspondence.
However, no matter an employee’s age, there are certain traits he or she wants in a manager — patience, respect, supportiveness, to name a few.
Encourage Communication Between Generations
Many times a workplace conflict or argument is simply the result of misconceptions or misunderstandings. It’s not unusual for members of one generation to have preconceived notions about the other, even if these impressions are inaccurate.
Workplace leaders should start dialogues with their staff about the differences and similarities between the generations. Invite each group to share their opinions about one another so they can discuss and address any false impressions. These conversations allow team members to gain accurate perceptions of one another as well as find their common ground. They also foster a more respectful and friendly workplace where employees can take advantage of the strengths of each generation.
Promote Workplace Flexibility
Since boomers range in age from 52 to 70, at this point in their life they likely have few (or no) dependents for whom they’re responsible. Consequently, their financial burden tends to be lower and their outside obligations are fewer, so they prefer to spend more time away from the office enjoying activities.
Baby boomers are starting to appreciate the idea of a work-life balance more and more, which means workplace leaders should have more flexible work arrangements. This includes flexibility in terms of work hours and location. Being supportive of a boomer’s life outside of the office will help improve their job satisfaction and, in turn, increase productivity.
Offer Mentorship Programs
Since baby boomers usually stay at one company for several years, they have a wealth of experience in the industry and knowledge about the business. Inviting boomers to mentor more novice employees gives them the opportunity to share their wisdom and feel a sense of fulfillment by passing along the insights they’ve gained over the years.
Additionally, mentoring can be a two-way street. As baby boomers teach younger generations what they’ve learned during their tenure, they can also enlist the help of their mentee to assist them in becoming more familiar with new workplace technology and software.
Businesses should keep in mind, however, mentoring requires a tremendous time commitment and if an employee volunteers to be part of the mentorship program, his or her work responsibilities should be adjusted accordingly.
All adults, regardless of their generation, want to attain a sense of purpose from their job. And many baby boomers’ career is their raison d'etre—the thing from which they derive the most meaning. Workplace leaders have a pool of loyal employees who are dedicated to their careers and are inclined to stay with a company long-term, as long as they feel engaged at work.
To learn more about what matters most to your workforce, download our free SlideShare, 8 Items to Help Attract and Retain Talented Employees.