I’m sure you are well aware of the trends in workforce demographics and how they are changing. What you might not realize is the magnitude at which this is happening. Every day in the United States, 10,000 Baby Boomers retire—a pattern that is predicted to continue for the next several years. Now, before you dismiss this as another article telling you how to attract the ever elusive Millennial to fill the gap in your Human Services workforce, read on. This blog post is going to dive deeper into the characteristics of both seemingly opposite demographics, and give some valuable tips for balancing your new intergenerational workforce.
A study published in the academic journal, Frontiers of Health Services Management, examines the changing dynamic of the Human Services workplace as well as the defining characteristics of the various generations in said workforce. The findings of this study become interesting when you compare Baby Boomers and Millennials. One might think these two generations have absolutely nothing in common, but when it comes to the attitudes these cohorts hold in regards to the workplace, you’ll find they’re far more similar than they are different. With this in mind, here are three tips to balancing an intergenerational workforce, allowing you to capitalize on both the similarities and differences of the Baby Boomer and Millennial generations.
When examining what the ‘Outlooks’ for Baby Boomers and Millennials are, it was found that they were ‘Optimistic’ and ‘Hopeful’ respectively. It’s important that you don’t let that spirit diminish for either group, and that you nurture the enthusiasm of your workforce. A way to make Baby Boomers more comfortable with the incoming Millennials and feel as though the organization and services they have provide for clients are in good hands, is to introduce mentorships or internships within your organization. By having programs like this in place, the more experienced staff can pass on valuable knowledge and skills to eager, hopeful new hires. This not only gives staff who may be retiring in the next few years peace of mind, but also makes them feel valued and not as though they are being forced out of the organization by a younger demographic.
Think Laterally, Rather Than Vertically
Another trait that defines Millennials is their thirst for knowledge. They expect to be learning new things constantly and therefore have an inherent belief that they will likely be changing jobs (and even organizations) often. In order to feed this hunger for learning, it is important to provide the opportunity for lateral moves within the organization. This strategy allows new hires to develop a more well-rounded knowledge of the organization and also helps satisfy the urge Millennials have to move into new roles and jobs (decreasing your turnover in the process). Also, because giving vertical promotions (which usually imply more monetary compensation) are often difficult for Human Services due to scarce resources, lateral moves in the company are a great alternative, especially because the Millennial generation is driven by meaningful work, rather than tangible rewards.
Capitalize on Your Organization’s Collective Knowledge
As your workforce begins to change, your organization as a whole will likely follow suit. One major change that you might be facing (besides a different demographic) is introducing or updating technology into your organization's processes. Many organizations recognize the benefits and efficiencies that new technology will bring (as well as please the tech-savvy Millennials), but fear possible resistance to change from Baby Boomers. One key thing you can do to help ease this transition is to involve them in it! Have Baby Boomers and other experienced staff give their input and insight into the design and implementation of the new software. They know how the organization works from many years of first-hand experience and are going to be the people using it every day. By including them in this process, it not only provides your organization with a more effective software, but it also makes your experienced staff feel valued and more comfortable with using new, and potentially unfamiliar, technology.
Interested in learning more? Join us on September 20th at 2pm EST where our webinar, The Intergenerational Workforce: Best Practices for the Human Services Sector, will dive deep into how technology, change, and harnessing the skills of both older and younger generations will improve Human Services’ effectiveness.