Forget Gen Z ΓÇô the Baby Boomers Are Back in the Office
According to a recent report from the Equality and Human Rights Commission, the over fifties are ΓÇ£the new work generationΓÇ¥. So forget Gen Z ΓÇô what do Baby Boomers want from the office?
A force within the workforce
Baby Boomers (people born between 1946 and 1964) currently make up around a third of the UK workforce. According to the Department for Work & Pensions, the number of workers aged 50-64 has increased by two million over the last fifteen years. One in ten people over 65 are now in work ΓÇô the highest number since records began.
They are, in other words, a force to be reckoned with.
TheyΓÇÖre also highly qualified employees with decades of diverse experience in the workplace. So how can you make sure theyΓÇÖre happy in the office?
Think face-to-face communications
While Gen Y and Z email or instant message the co-worker sitting next to them, the average Baby Boomer tends to prefer face-to-face communications ΓÇô choosing meetings over conference calls or email.
Of course, Baby Boomers are no strangers to email, and will choose it over text or instant messaging. ItΓÇÖs a more leisurely method of digital communication which reflects how, unlike their Gen Z co-workers, they donΓÇÖt need to be constantly connected.
Be prepared: Try to strike a balance between face-to-face and more remote communications methods. An occasional team meeting is good for everyone.
TheyΓÇÖve been through several decades of change in the office ΓÇô seeing desktop computers become mainstream, grappling with the first brick-like mobile phones ΓÇô so itΓÇÖs unfair that the Baby Boomers have a reputation for being old-fashioned technophobes. In fact, theyΓÇÖre highly adaptable.
After all, in our tech-driven times, itΓÇÖs almost impossible to get by in the office without a sound understanding of technology.
Just like their younger counterparts, Baby Boomers are relishing the ways in which tech can make their lives ΓÇô and their jobs ΓÇô easier. Touchscreen technology is particularly popular among this generation (in the US, people aged fifty-five and over account for 22% of iphone sales, 9% of ipad sales and 26% of Kindle sales).
Be prepared: Baby Boomers (as theyΓÇÖll probably tell you) have seen it all before. When it comes to tech, theyΓÇÖre looking for function over gimmicks, rather than tech for techΓÇÖs sake.
Unlike Gen Y and Z, many Baby Boomers actually enjoy being in the office; the buzz, the sociable atmosphere, the tea break chatter ΓÇô after all, thatΓÇÖs why they chose to stay on ΓÇô or come back ΓÇô in the first place.
That said, flexible working is still a great way to keep the Baby Boomers on board ΓÇô it just needs to be tailored to their needs. Part-time working, condensed hours and job sharing are the obvious options for those who donΓÇÖt want to be in the office five days a week ΓÇô and for those with family commitments such as elderly parents or grandchildren to take care of.
Be prepared: Remember to take the Baby BoomersΓÇÖ different lifestyle needs into account when planning your flexible working policy.
BYED ΓÇô Buy Your Employees Devices
A BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy isnΓÇÖt likely to find much favour with this generation of workers.
Baby Boomers are more protective of the divide between their work and home lives than Gen Zers. They might treasure their time in the office, but they treasure their time away from it too ΓÇô and are a lot less likely to want to spend it being bothered with work-related emails.
TheyΓÇÖre also more wary of the security risks associated with technology and the internet ΓÇô another barrier to bringing their own tablets or smartphones into the office.
Be prepared: DonΓÇÖt expect your Baby Boomer employees to bring their own devices into the office. If you want them to use tablets, laptops or smartphones, youΓÇÖll need to supply them.
Loving the office?
The mortgage is paid, the kids have been put through university; many Baby Boomers arenΓÇÖt in the workplace for the money.
ItΓÇÖs largely a question of enjoyment ΓÇô work is the new hobby. Many are taking the opportunity to take on a new role or try out a different career, now that the pressure to be a breadwinner is no longer there.
Be prepared: Set aside any assumptions that Baby Boomers are counting down the days to retirement. According to HR Magazine older workers are the key to addressing the shortfall in workers which the UK economy will experience in the next decade. So make sure you understand what they want and what they need from the office.
Are you a Baby Boomer? What do you want to see in the office?