Millennials vs. Baby Boomers: Defining Work

The definition of “work” doesn’t seem like one that should be contested. Most of the population expects that eventually, they will need to hold down a job and bring in income. But the expectations of what work looks like for Millennials vs. Baby Boomers become very different.

The Keys of Baby Boomer Work Ethic

“Workaholic” was practically defined by the baby boomer generation. 60-hour work weeks were not uncommon, especially in their prime. While specific skillsets were important to many of their jobs, personal ethics, face time, and hard work have always been more important. The baby boomer generation expects:

  • Hard work until the job is done
  • To place more emphasis on the “work” half of work/life balance
  • To stay in the same job throughout most of their lives, rather than bouncing from one job to another

Millennials: Redefining Work

Enter Millennials. Described by many as being an entitled generation, the truth is that Millennials are driven, focused, and ready to prove themselves. They aren’t punching a time clock just to earn a paycheck. Instead, they focus on experience gained and impact made, always reaching for the next pinnacle of achievement. As a generation that has now overtaken the baby boomers in the workforce, Millennials are redefining what a regular work week looks like. They expect:

  • Increased training throughout the life of their job that will allow them to improve their skills
  • Flexible scheduling, from work-from-home options to hours that are defined by their needs, not the old 9-5 grind
  • Enhanced work-life balance that allows them to live their lives outside the company
  • To change jobs based on their changing needs and what their employers can offer them

Millennials vs. Baby Boomers: The Difference isn’t so Stark

Generational tensions are not uncommon in a workplace that contains both baby boomers and millennials. The idea of “work” has changed drastically over the past few generations, and the shift makes it difficult for many workers to meet in the middle. There are some things, however, that both millennials and baby boomers value, including:

  • Hard work
  • Ethics and responsibility
  • Making a positive difference in their workplace

When it comes down to their ability to do their jobs and their willingness to work hard, the differences between Millennials and Baby Boomers isn’t so stark. In fact, many sources are now considering the possibility that it’s not “Millennials vs Baby Boomers” at all, but rather that these individuals are simply at different stages of their lives and have different expectations of what their work day will look like. The good news is, both millennials and baby boomers have a great deal to offer any workplace–and both generations are willing to work hard in order to do it.