Posted May 26, 2020 by Mark Perna
What annoys each generation the most about the other? A new study tells all. Mark’s article, “OK Boomer, OK Millennial: Why We’re Not OK At Work Together,” published at Forbes.com on May 21, 2020.
“OK, Boomer” may be the mantra of many in the younger generations, but Boomers have their own grievances against the Millennials. A recent study from Olivet Nazarene University reveals significant rifts in the workplace between America’s two largest generational cohorts.
According to the survey, 30% of Millennials say they’re being held back by an older colleague. At the same time, 51% of Boomers are worried that a younger colleague could take their job. More than half of the Boomer respondents (52%) reported experiencing age discrimination in the workplace.
Millennials who say that a Boomer colleague is holding them back feel that their older coworker takes credit for their work, unfairly blames them when something goes wrong, steals their ideas, competes unproductively, and simply doesn’t listen to their contribution.
Boomers who fear losing their job to a Millennial say that younger workers can adapt more quickly, are more technologically savvy, have high ambitions, and are most cost-effective to hire.
Sometimes, the personality and work-style clashes just can’t be worked out. 1 in 4 Millennials report quitting their job because of an older colleague. For Boomers, this number jumps to 1 in 3 who have left their position because of a younger coworker.
It’s no secret that Boomers and Millennials can have trouble getting along—but interestingly, some of their biggest frustrations are the same. Both generations rate the other’s over-inflated sense of entitlement and “know-it-all” approach as major annoyances.Both the Boomers and Millennials rate the other’s over-inflated sense of entitlement and “know-it-all” approach as major annoyances. Click To Tweet
Boomers’ top frustrations with Millennials include:
Millennials are most annoyed by:
Despite their differences, Millennials and Boomers do share some workplace priorities. Unsurprisingly, more money is a big motivator for both generations, with 84% of Millennials and 75% of Boomers saying they would leave their current positions for a higher salary elsewhere. Only 53% of Millennials are satisfied with their current pay, compared to 71% of Boomers. Though both generations are almost equally hesitant to ask for a raise, 51% of Boomers have done so in the last year, compared to 39% of Millennials.
Millennials and Boomers also share strikingly similar preferences for their workday format, with, respectively, 24% and 26% preferring a four-day week and 17% and 19% preferring remote work. The two generations are equal in their preference for 9–5 hours (30%) and flex scheduling (21%).
As much as Millennials and Boomers can struggle to work together, it’s not all bad. Millennials most admire their Boomer coworkers’ dependability (42%), punctuality (41%), and attention to detail (26%). Boomers can also find something to praise in their younger colleagues, including their positivity (34%), problem-solving ability (32%), and accountability (24%).
There’s clearly a lot that both generations can do to lessen the generational friction at work—and such efforts are all the more important amid the stress of our suddenly remote workspace. Communicating with clarity, extending kindness, and viewing things from the other person’s perspective can help us all do better than just OK at work together—no matter what generation we’re from.