Office Culture

Baby Boomers vs. Millennials: Polar Opposites or the Perfect Workplace Complement?

The stereotypes of baby boomers and millennials is a well worn topic. Steady boomers are portrayed as rigid in their ways, always a few steps behind with technology, and constantly saying “back when I…(didn’t have a cell phone, or, had to do it by hand)” to make a point to younger ears. On the other hand, offbeat millennials are widely thought to be social media crazed narcissists, resistant to hierarchy, and eternally uncertain about their career decisions.

Not only are these perceptions short-sighted, they’re fracturing our workplaces. Both generations have valuable skills and traits that complement the other. The big question is — how do we strengthen and encourage this relationship in the quickly changing office landscape?

Boomers

Mass retirement might be around the corner, but baby boomers still comprise 40% of the workforce and are poised to continue working well past the previous retirement age of 60. They may not be the priority of recruitment in the modern workplace, but they have the resources and knowhow to shape its future — at the end of the day, boomers hold 80% of the U.S.’s personal net worth and have ~$30 trillion to pass down in the next 20 years.

Despite comprising such a large segment of the workforce and holding most of the wealth, the rapid adoption of dynamic team structures, dependency on tech, and peer-to-peer management styles used to attract millennials have marginalized older generations and radically changed job requirements, forcing an entire generation to learn new skills or fear obsolescence. This new work landscape has cast boomers as stubbornly out of touch, ultimately creating the lackluster stereotype that comes to mind.

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However, this cultural shift should not be viewed as an out with the old & in with the new storyline. Despite a shift toward millennial-oriented workplaces, older employees have remained up-to-date with industry trends and technologies and have established themselves as innovative leaders in the modern work environment. This is to be expected from the best-educated, most highly skilled work demographic in U.S. history that institutionalized equal pay, affirmative action, progressive health and retirement benefits, and constitutes more than half of all current managers.

To sum it up — boomers have the experience, positioning, and the capital that millennials need to succeed. As this generational shift picks up speed, boomers will pass down their experience, resources, and capital to younger generations that will fill their void post-retirement. Herein lies the challenge: How do we ensure that younger generations are receiving the best advice and support to become the leaders our workforce will soon desperately need?

Millennials

At the heart of the ‘generational divide’ on the millennial side are cliched depictions of millennial work ideologies, mostly championed by older generations. Although the millennial worker often expects a ‘progressive’ workplace culture where each employee is heard and acknowledged, they do not assume this to be simply achieved with happy hours, kickball teams, and lounge room decor. At a deeper level, they desire workplaces that are tech-forward, promote their personal development and health, and emphasize transparent, direct, and honest communication. They expect progress to originate from fair and just management practices, corporate flexibility, and, like the boomers before them, want to be the generation that solves large-scale global issues.

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Contrary to splashy headlines, these desires do not translate to reduced output and a poor work ethic. Millennials have made their true intentions known by making systems more efficient through smarter design, and leveraging technology and teamwork to speed up processes and drive progress. This mindset, coupled with the fact that millennials will soon constitute the largest demographic to ever enter the workforce, is a reassuring sign for what’s to come.

Ditching the Stereotypes

So, how do we dissolve these conflicting stereotypes and strengthen ties between the two generations?

Cultivating workplaces where employees of different ages are equally engaged—inspired even— is the goal. In order to achieve this, companies must find ways to celebrate cultural differences across age groups, instead of trying to synthesize a new homogenous culture altogether. There are a range of viable solutions to consider, like restructuring team dynamics, encouraging personal skill growth and skill sharing, and engaging employees across age-groups in various on and off-site social events.

Another emerging trend is to challenge employees individually and in small groups to become more open-minded and empathetic towards colleagues from different generations. With advancements in personalized feedback platforms (wearables, health apps, and digital tools) it’s possible to receive real-time information on behavioral strengths and weaknesses and measure how they change over time. For example, maybe you subconsciously discredit older employees because you think they are uncreative, or withhold certain projects from a younger colleague because of age-related trust issues. No matter how open-minded someone is, biases exist for everyone and continuous and personal feedback could help put things in perspective.

Companies have caught on and are exploring ways to generate this quantifiable data to help their employees become more mindful by emphasizing how they fit into the bigger picture and why their outlook matters. Digital tools, such as employee engagement analytics, are being used to:

1. Provide managers with a real-time company pulse by collecting and evaluating employee data and sentiment.

2. Provide measurable insights into key challenges that can be used to devise company-specific strategies to strengthen culture across age gaps.

3. Engage employees to drive healthy habits and create strong brand ambassadorship.

These digital tools are part of a comprehensive solution, and they can provide the foundation to make steps in the right direction. By combining more employee data, identifying company cultural concerns, and improving behavioral health at an individual scale, organizations can ensure that they are driving collaboration and actually benefitting from their age diversity to increase productivity and strengthen company culture.

The occasional happy hour can’t hurt either :)


Psocratic is a proactive behavioral health platform on a mission to advance workplace culture and wellness. Schedule a demo or say hello: info@psocratic.com 🙌

5 Signs of Employee Burnout and What You Can Do About It

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Burnout is a buzzword you may have heard before but what does it really mean?

When people have too much on their plate or feel overwhelmed, they may notice a decline in productivity, engagement, and morale. Between work and life, they may feel stretched too thin.

This is burnout — and it can affect everything from job performance to personal health.

A staggering 95% of businesses report their employees suffer from burnout, and are mentally, physically, and emotionally drained. But not everyone knows how to address it.

Here’s how to recognize the key signs of burnout and begin to address them.


1. Overworked Employees

Everything from an unreasonable workload to the never-ending work day (hello, smartphones!) can overwhelm an employee. Workloads that are heavier than normal can cause employees to overwork without breaks, miss deadlines, and generally create a frantic environment.

Addressing workload concerns, establishing off-hour communication boundaries, and setting reasonable expectations for deadlines can all help alleviate the pressures of associated with this type of stress.


2. Lack of Motivation

Motivation is necessary to spark productivity and an overall positive attitude at work. When people feel stuck in a role and don’t see opportunities for growth, their satisfaction with a job may decrease.

Providing opportunities for professional growth, like learning new skills or attending conferences, can help inspire employees and reconnect them to their jobs. Feedback also plays a key role in motivation, and positive reinforcement can reignite an employee’s spark.


3. Low Morale

Morale defines the general spirit of a company. Positive encouragement, a strong work culture, and satisfactory compensation and benefits are essential to employees’ well-being. When these needs are not met, it can lead to burnout.

Encouraging open communication and positive feedback can boost morale and potentially create opportunities for brand ambassadorship.


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4. Excess Absence

Day-to-day stress, along with any of the factors on this list, can lead to increased absenteeism. When unplanned absences begin to rack up, signs often point to burnout.

Beginning to understand why your employees may take unplanned absences, is the first step toward solving the problem. A good place to start? The other items on this list :)


5. Fear of Expression

When people feel unheard or as if their voice doesn’t matter, they may stop offering opinions or shut down. Encouraging communication between leadership and employees, and increasing transparency can help create an atmosphere in which people feel comfortable providing valuable feedback.


Now what?

Once signs of burnout are identified — acknowledge them! Creating an open dialogue around burnout can reduce the stigma of the issue, and create a comfortable space in which people can voice the need for time off or support.

A layer of support for stress management can help encourage purpose, growth and connection. Whether you’re working with an internal HR team, or with tools like Psocratic, providing resources will help push your team onward and upward.

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Psocratic is an intelligent digital platform on a mission to advance workplace culture and wellness. Schedule a demo or say hello: info@psocratic.com 🙌