Bridging the gap between boomers and millennials


By Jarred Meeks

A Zionsville business coach highlighted the differences between baby boomers and millennials while also suggesting ways to mitigate those differences in the workplace at the Nov. 19 Zionsville Chamber of Commerce Business Breakfast.

CIZ COM 1126 Chamber breakfast

Paul McCoy, a certified business coach for ActionCoach who also coaches the Zionsville High School Rugby Club, said each generation in the workplace – baby boomers (1946-1964), Generation X (1965-1980), Generation Y, or millennials, (1981-1996) and Generation Z (1996-present) – have different needs and expectations.

Workplace culture is the environment created for employees, whether it be a 1970s-esque cubicle-centric office or an open, communal space like zWorks, and it’s more important than ever, McCoy said. It plays a powerful role in determining employees’ work satisfaction, relationships and progression.

McCoy, born in the United Kingdom, has 25 years of experience working with business leaders to improve operational efficiencies. During that time, he has seen different approaches to adjust to millennials’ increased desire for flexibility at work.

An “old-school boss,” in one of McCoy’s hypotheticals, would want to enforce a strict schedule. So, if an employee – in this case, a millennial – arrived at 8:15 a.m. instead of the mandated 8 a.m. start time, the boss would likely issue a warning, even if the employee had spent the better part of the previous night working late hours to finish a report.

“You’ve just lost, in that one (exchange), the motivation, the encouragement of (that) employee just for 15 minutes that he/she might have spent hours of night finishing a report,” McCoy said. “The flexibility of the workplace, and the ability to do stuff in their own time, when they want to do it, is key, as long as they get the work done.”

Although there may be differences, especially in preferred forms of communication, baby boomers — all the way through Generation Z — all appreciate face-to-face communication in the workplace, according to McCoy.

“People crave being with people,” McCoy said. “Humans are very much social animals.”

With more baby boomers retiring each day, and millennials and Generation Z employees increasing, businesses will need to make these adjustments to thrive, McCoy said.