Generational Spotlight: Baby Boomers as the Workplace Leaders

Posted by Richard Jacobson

This blog entry is part three in Jacobson’s Generational Spotlight Series, which provides a general overview of the generations active in the workforce. While we understand that these overviews may include broad stereotypes that do not apply to all members of that particular breakdown, we believe there is value in looking at today’s professionals from a generational perspective in order to gain a better understanding of their viewpoints. 

Blog-Side-Bar--BabyBoomerQuoteConversationally known as “Boomers,” Baby Boomers are the largest generational cohort currently employed. With 66 million professionals, the Boomers comprise 44 percent of the U.S. workforce. While these experienced individuals hold most of the power and control within the workplace, retirements are on the horizon and many early boomers are already on the cusp of exiting the business world.

However, The Baby Boomers are also revolutionizing retirement, choosing to work passed the traditional retirement age or reinventing themselves with careers in other industries. They are starting new businesses, pursuing their interests, and finding satisfying “second careers” in both the private and not-for-profit sectors. In order to retain these progressive professionals, organizations must focus on creating a culture and environment that supports their desires and needs.

Just who are these business leaders and what are their motivations? What can organizations do to ensure their Baby Boomer employees are happy and engaged?

Growing up in the post-World War II era—between 1946 and 1964—Boomers were shaped by parents who believed that life would be better for this new, and largest ever, generation. By 1967, the Boomers, then aged 25 and under, were named Time magazine’s Man of the Year. They were the first generation to be graded on “working well with others” and were shaped by climactic events including the assassination of President Kennedy, the U.S. moon landing, and the Vietnam War.

Baby Boomers as the Workplace LeadersFor the Baby Boomers, work is a place to prove their worth, resulting in a “whatever it takes” and “going the extra mile” mindset. They possess a strong work ethic and focus on their careers as a defining characteristic. As a result, Baby Boomers, more than any other generation, put emphasis on jobs that recognize their immense experience, offices that are respectable and have status, and organizations that provide formal recognition. Organizations looking to retain these experienced leaders should focus on acknowledging their skills and contributions by giving them leadership and supervisory roles and functions, and encouraging them to share their experiences with their younger colleagues through mentoring.

Having been taught at a young age to be good members of a team, Baby Boomers place significant emphasis on making a difference and contributing to their team and organization as a whole. Companies should emphasize how important these employees are to their teams and the value that they add to the organization. They should highlight how the individual’s work is benefiting the organization and how they make a difference on a daily basis.

In light of the recent focus on filling the talent pipeline, organizations may be overlooking the Baby Boomer generation and missing out on the valuable knowledge and skills they offer. Is your organization making efforts to engage and retain its Baby Boomer professionals?