Though many businesses are anxious to hire millennials, known for their fresh, enthusiastic take on professional life and their social media savvy, hiring managers and recruiters shouldn’t overlook the value of baby boomers.
Though some might assume that boomers are retired or are biding their time until they get there, in reality, boomers make up 29 percent of the workforce, according to Pew Research Center. They’re an active, engaged part of the professional world, and they can add significant value to your business. It’s clear they’re an important professional group to pay attention to.
Here are some of the benefits your office will enjoy when you hire baby boomers and how to attract this unique generation for a flawless transition in your organization:
Baby Boomers Know How to Bring It
They have the experience
The boomer generation has been at work longer, which means that employees in this age group have the kind of insight that you just can’t teach. They’ve seen firsthand what works and what doesn’t. They can use this awareness to inform the choices they make. This foresight makes baby boomer-aged professionals valuable in a management role. When you need to select project leaders, you know they’ll be up to the task.
They know what they want
Baby boomers have already gone through the phase where they want to try new adventures professionally. While younger workers might want to do sales one week, the next week they might want to be a graphic designer or give culinary school a shot. This can lead to a lot of turnover for businesses hiring these individuals, which is both costly and tiresome.
When you hire a baby boomer, you’ll likely gain more consistency. At this point, these individuals know what they’re looking for in a position and they know what kind of company they’d like to be part of. When you hire someone from this generation, you don’t have to worry as much about them leaving in six months for a new opportunity they just have to try out.
They can work with different personality types
After spending years in a professional setting, baby boomers have gotten familiar with navigating the waters of office politics. They’re not rattled by the office gossip type or the one who takes credit for their ideas. They know how to deal with various personality types in a way that remains peaceful and professional. This makes them valuable mediators in a dynamic office situation.
Professionally, boomers have a confidence that’s highly appealing. They trust their own abilities and it makes them decisive team members. You don’t have to worry as you send them out on a big client meeting because they’ll likely feel calm in the situation. You can trust that they will represent the business well.
They’re well connected
After working in the industry for years, boomer-aged professionals have built up a strong base of connections in the field. Beyond surface-level relationships, these are deep friendships they can leverage when needed. This is beneficial for a business, particularly in a sales-related position. If they need to get in contact with a certain company, they probably know someone there.
They can mentor younger employees
With their knowledge and experience, baby boomers are in a perfect position to become influential mentors to younger employees. This improves employee morale and makes everyone in your office better.
A unique perspective
People from this generation see the world differently. They weren’t raised on social media and the internet. This different perspective can be valuable in a professional situation, particularly if your office is heavy on millennials at the moment. An even balance is key.
They’re not scared of the phone
When you have employees who have grown up texting and emailing, sometimes it can be challenging to encourage them to pick up the phone and have a person-to-person conversation. Yet, these types of discussions are essential for preventing miscommunication, and often enable work to get done in a more timely manner.
Baby boomers are used to this being the only option for communication, and are usually comfortable communicating this way. This means they can help build deeper relationships than the ones formed when emojis are at play.
They know how to adapt
Despite the fact that they didn’t grow up tweeting or Instagramming, baby boomers have had to adapt in order to keep up professionally. If you still refuse to use email or social media, you’re going to fall behind.
Suddenly, the world runs on email and 140 characters, so they’ve had to get used to this shift in communication. This means they know how to adapt and learn about new technology. If you have to introduce a new piece of software at work, you probably won’t overwhelm this type of
professional when you announce the change.
Know How to Bring Boomers Onboard
For those who are looking to expand their team and want to ensure their open position appeals to and attracts the attention of baby boomers, here are some points to consider:
Be descriptive when discussing the position
Baby boomers are more experienced professionally. They know what they do and don’t want to do at work each day and have probably gone through a lot of trial and error to get there. Therefore, when they’re reading a job description, they’re going to be looking for specific details about what the position would be like.
Being vague or general isn’t a good approach. Instead, offer as many details as possible and attempt to paint a clear picture about what that position would actually look like for the person who accepts the role.
You may want to attract the attention of a baby boomer, but don’t try to fudge the details about a job. They probably have read enough job descriptions and been on enough interviews to know when a potential employer isn’t being upfront with them. If there’s an aspect of the available position that may be considered undesirable (having to cold call frequently, for example) then be honest about this in order to avoid wasting everyone’s time.
Know that benefits matter
While millennials might be on the lookout for work from home options or a flexible schedule, baby boomers are all about the benefits when it comes to selecting a new position. Provide an appealing health care and retirement package if you want to attract their attention.
Don’t rely only on social media
While many baby boomers love Facebook and Twitter, they probably don’t check it as constantly as millennials who have grown up using these platforms. Therefore, if you’re relying solely on social media to reach boomers, you may be missing out.
If you want your job opening to reach professionals in the baby boomer generation, make sure you diversify how you’re spreading the word. Feel free to use social media, but depend on the reach of other platforms, such as industry-specific sites, to attract the attention of boomers ready for a new professional challenge.
Be OK with approaching passive candidates
If you want to diversify your office and get a variety of perspectives involved, be willing to get active and recruit talent. Have conversations with standout professionals. Show them why they would enjoy being part of your team.
Just because a person isn’t hitting “send” on their resume the second a job posting at your office goes live, doesn’t mean they’re a poor fit for the role. Passive candidates can bring equally as much enthusiasm and vigor to a new role, they just require hiring managers to recruit them more intently.
Lead Your Diverse Team With Confidence
While there are a number of benefits to having people from different generations working together for your brand, managing a team like this creates a unique set of challenges. You have different personalities and perspectives melding together in one office.
Here’s how to lead a multi-generational team successfully:
Educate your employees about their colleagues
Have a training session that covers the styles of each generation, while highlighting both differences and similarities between them. Boomers may not understand the subtleties of the millennial generation and vice versa, so making everyone aware helps to prevent misunderstandings.
Encourage employees to get to know one another
Encourage your team members to interact with one another and to get to know their colleagues on a deeper level. You can do this by setting up a mentoring program in which more experienced professionals mentor newbies, or you can put together office happy hours, sports leagues, or other opportunities for social interaction. When your employees know each other as more than just a name on an email chain, it’s easier to foster cooperation.
Promote in-person communication
Workdays are busy, and it’s tempting to fire off an email to someone on the other side of the office instead of pushing back your chair, walking to their desk, and having a discussion with them. However, when your employees get into the habit of communicating with each other solely via electronics, camaraderie is lost. It’s easier for tone and context to be misunderstood. For these reasons, encourage your staff to rely on face-to-face communication whenever possible.
Know that there will be differences in learning styles
When you’re working with a broad range of ages, understand that you’re going to find differences in preferred learning styles. If the team is sitting through a presentation, some may want a PowerPoint, while others want a more technology-based, interactive session. Try to compromise and find a way to accommodate the various preferences in your office.
Take time to know each employee personally too
While there may be general tendencies among members of the same generation, this doesn’t mean that each individual within that generation is the same as everyone else who fits into that group. It’s easy to get caught up in generational stereotypes, but make it a point to learn your employees as individuals, too. What do they need to succeed at work? How do they learn and work best? Understanding these details contributes to the long-term success of your office.
Don’t play favorites
Personally, you may relate better to a particular generation, but try to avoid favoritism in the office. Just because something falls in line with your particular communication or organization method doesn’t mean your co-workers and employees agree. Be sensitive to other people’s preferences, too — even if they don’t totally sync up with your own.
Let employees play an active role in the office environment
Rather than dictating how the company will run, let employees weigh in, when appropriate. How do they prefer to receive notifications about news? Are paper memos preferable or is an email fine? What kinds of changes would they recommend so that the business can operate more smoothly? When employees understand that their voices matter, it fosters a more collaborative environment.
Don’t get too hung up on the differences in employees
While age gaps mean that there might be some differences in how employees see the world, don’t assume that your team members will have nothing in common. You’d be surprised how well a 25-year-old employee can relate to a 50-year-old employee, despite differences in age and experience. Instead of assuming that age gaps will be problematic, give your staff a chance to bond.
Members of the baby boomer generation can add valuable knowledge, insight, and energy to your office. However, recruiting and managing these professionals often requires a different approach than when you’re dealing with people from other generations. Understanding the differences in preferences allows you to make sure that your business appeals to this valuable group of experienced professionals.