You hear a lot in HR and the Recruiting/Talent Acquisition front about how the workplace can deal with different generations. You can do a Google search “how to deal with millennials” and there will be tons of results of articles on dealing with them. I never understood why people, older than us, are trying to decipher a huge group of young people and still to this day, have not got a good answer.
Then, I read Jim Tankersley’s scathing article on baby boomers. To summarize, Jim research and says that while baby boomers had the best economy, they did not share any of the good stuff to future generations. That’s why you see a lot Gen X and Gen Yers started their own companies. The reason for that? Baby boomers are still controlling governments and businesses.
In business (Fortune 500), the median CEO age is 55 and the average wait to be a CEO is 12.8 years. For those companies, patience and knowing “the game” takes time. However, the younger generations have more resources, rapid technology, and a better understanding of data and the world that could advance their company. The best example of this clash is looking at the WWE. Vince McMahon is still the CEO and the fans (or as WWE would refer to them as the WWE Universe) are upset that Vince has not changed about his brand of wrestling. Currently rating are down on both RAW and Smackdown. Some argue that Vince is at his best when there’s competition, like the Monday Night Wars with WCW because he’s being pushed. Since Vince bought WCW in 2001 and basically monopolize the industry, the product got stale for a long period of time and from the ratings, it shows. Ironically, the best competitor to WWE is WWE’s own developmental program called NXT. The brains of NXT is WWE’s COO, Paul Levesque (“Triple H”). Most have said Triple H is the heir apparent to Vince and has the formula down pat with the success of NXT. However, since Vince is in charge, Triple H will be playing second banana until Vince leaves. This is why the younger generation want to be independent by working as contractors or entrepreneurs because they don’t want to wait; they want to experiment.
In the U.S. government, the average age of a Senator is 62; average age for a Representative is 57; and the average for a U.S. Governor is nearly 60. All those ages are in the baby boomer range and looking at those charts, our decision makers are going to get older. The problem is not they’re old; the problem is they’re making decisions for their age bracket and not all constituents, which includes Gen X, Gen Y, Gen Z, and their kids. The old ways would not attract Gen X and Gen Y because it’s bureaucratic and those generations want to get things done. That’s why you see young people work in the private sector, work in a nonprofit, or be a social entrepreneur.
Let me be clear: although the baby boomers were in the best economy of our time, some did earned that money and can spend it however they want it. The problem was, and is to this day, is that some don’t want to leave their post so they can wait for their social security and medicare benefits to kick in when they retire. That’s the frustrating part about is the baby boomers, who are in leadership positions, are making decisions for themselves and not listening to Gen X or Gen Y issues on a variety of topics. It’s odd because the baby boomers have children and grandchildren who they could have a helping hand on making these decisions for the future. Yes, the baby boomers will help out their families, but you would think it would have an effect in their decisions, but it doesn’t.
Is there a real solution to this? Sadly, it might be too late since the baby boomers have decided on their decision to help themselves. I like Tankersely is asking the baby boomers to help out future generations on many different things, but it’s naive to think the decision-makers will get it done. Also, I think we need to stop focus on generations and focus on small groups and individuals. To best look at the mindset of each individual, I recommend reading Beloit University’s “The Mindset List”. It gives a list of items each graduating class has and has not experienced. “The Mindset List” should be a starter kit for your recruitment. What I also recommend employers is stop trying to act cool and act who you are. Baby boomers assume what was cool, but instead of guessing, why not talk to the younger generation, what they value and what they want to do.
To the HR/Recruiting/TA pros, realize this: some of the millennials are in their 30s now (including myself). Stop writing articles on what to do with Gen Y. I want to see articles on how your company can mesh together and have a plan that can benefit all sides.
To the baby boomers, do you want to make a profit or be great? There’s a difference making money and having a legacy. You decide, baby boomers.
Picture via BBC