The Boomer vs. Millennial Workplace Conflict: 12 Reasons behind the Generational Divide

By Krystal Brown

Baby boomers and millennials now comprise 98% of the global workforce. This is a good thing that ensures the continuous growth of the company. But this doesn’t come without the constant trends of Intergenerational conflict between the two generations, holding the company back from reaping the benefits of a multi-generational workforce. The following are the possible reasons behind the generational divide. 

Management Style

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Generations approach management styles differently, expecting different things from their managers. Baby boomers are characterized by straightforwardness, fairness, and competence, while millennials emphasize people skills as the key factors in management. This differing approach to management has been tagged as one of the biggest causes of intergenerational conflict. According to talent professionals, different management styles by baby boomers and GenZ accounted for 69% of the generational divide that rocks their workplace, causing problems for the company. 

Work-Life Balance Expectation 

Man stressed at work
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

The ever-changing world of work has seen massive prioritization of work-life balance by companies. In the yesteryears, working day and night without rest was deemed diligent. Today, people regard this as a practice that leads to burnout, forcing companies to prioritize the work-life balance of their employees to ensure they have enough time to rest and be with their families. This change in scope affects the two most dominant generations of the workforce. According to a LinkedIn survey data, 35% of millennials believe work-life balance is a critical consideration in their choice of careers compared to a measly 20% of Baby boomers. There might be a little gap between their expectations considering the gap; nevertheless, this can lead to conflict between them. Considering one generation had spent most of their lives in the era when more extended work hour was seen as an accomplishment. 

Communications Style 

Image Credit: Shutterstock

There has been a total overhaul in the method of communication. This rapidly changing scope often creates friction among the two dominant generations in the world of work. The baby boomers are more inclined to the in-person communication style where they see each other, while millennials often favor email as their go-to means of communication. The differing opinions and communication styles are key factors contributing to the generational divide in the workplace, which often results in a communication breakdown that would be devastating to the company if care is not taken. 

Workplace Flexibility

Image Credit: KostyaKlimenko via DepositPhotos.com

Workplace flexibility is the embracement of the idea that employee can produce at the optimum regardless of when or where they perform their work. This is a newfound understanding of the world of work that is moving away from the rigid-fashioned approach to work. According to Forbes, there has been a growing demand for workplace flexibility by more than 76% of the millennials compared to 60% of the baby boomers. This little difference can be a significant cause of concern between the two generations because millennials are more adept at flexible work environments to accommodate their lifestyles. At the same time, baby boomers find it hard to move away from the structured office environment they are accustomed to most of their lives. 

Feedback and Recognition 

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Feedback and recognition in the workplace is a form of appraisal that improves performance and builds trust and confidence among the workforce. There is a distinct sense of satisfaction regarding feedback and recognition. Baby boomers are more interested in monthly periodic reviews of their work and long-term feedback during that period. This is not the case with millennials, who often love the frequent feedback and recognition for a more profound skill development. These two divergent views about feedback and recognition can lead to conflict in the workplace if the two generations work in the same team, causing problems for the whole company process. 

Handling Workplace Changes 

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Restructuring and reorganization are two of the most common organizational changes that often occur in the workplace. These involve wholesome changes in the company work environment, hierarchy, and overall internal structure that touches everybody. Companies are implementing more technologically oriented changes to align with the global standard. This organizational change aligns with millennials’ viewpoint since they are regarded as the technologically embraced generation. This can be a painstaking process to adopt by the baby boomers who have been used to the tried and true method of the yesteryears. 

Benefits and Bonus

Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Every generation’s idea about workplace benefits and perks is quite different. Not many people realize this case might spiral into conflicts if not adequately addressed. Workplace benefits and bonuses in the United States have been relegated to health insurance, retirement benefits, paid leaves, etc. These are still the most common types of employee benefits, but there has been a changing perspective about what should be considered employee benefits in this changing world. Millennials usher in the era of flexible work hours, wellness programs, and remote work that fits their lifestyle, while baby boomers are more on the side of the old orders of traditional benefits like health insurance and others. This has led to a series of generational conflicts among the workforce. 

Diversity and Inclusion

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Diversity and inclusion are closely related value proponents that organizations seek to imbibe. Variety is the spice of the workplace, the sense of belonging that you belong here regardless of your race, skin color, gender, and sexual orientation. The massive realization that a diverse ms, inclusive company would better respond to challenges as dey the precedence for diversity and inclusion in today’s world of work. This wasn’t the case among the previous generations (baby boomers) brought up during the reign of discrimination in America. This upbringing shaped baby boomers’ idea of diversity and inclusion compared to millennials, who are part of the inclusivity movement and justice in the workplace. 

Company Loyalty 

Image Credit: Krakenimages.com via DepositPhotos.com

Loyalty is entirely subjective, but it doesn’t negate the general saying that millennials are always seeking new challenges compared to baby boomers, who are unconditionally committed to their current jobs. According to a survey by Future Workplace, the study showed that 91 percent of millennials anticipate staying in a position for less than three years, and they look forward to having more than 15-20 different jobs throughout their career. This starkly contrasts the idea being harbored by baby boomers who always look to stay in their current position for as long as their employer wants them. 

Leadership Style 

Image Credit: Shutterstock

A profound understanding of the generational differences between leadership styles in the workplace is critical to properly running the organization. As people from different generations form the backbone of the workforce, it is crucial to understand their perspectives on leadership styles to engender a harmonious relationship. The constant dispute between these two generations emanated from millennials’ preference for collaborative leadership and a flattened organizational structure. At the same time, baby boomers tend to have hierarchical structures and authoritarian leadership styles. 

Work Ethics 

Image Credit: Shutterstock

It’s not news that baby boomers and millennials are not speaking the same language regarding work. This is the same story regarding their work ethics; millennials value agility, flexibility, and a sense of freedom in their place of work. This starkly contrasts the antiquated system of hard work, dedication, and long hours of commitment to work, mainly seen among the baby boomers in the same workplace. These divergent views often cause the generational divide we usually see nowadays. 

Technology Adoption 

Image Credit: Shutterstock

Millennials stand out for their tech savviness compared to the baby boomers who trail in this regard. This often leads to workplace tension between the two generations that dominate the American workforce. The fact that millennials grew up during the height of tech adoption makes it easier for them to be more involved and adept in workspace digital tools compared to baby boomers, who are finding it hard to adopt technology usage in their careers.

Leave a Comment