Why you need Baby Boomers in your workplace
There’s a reason why organisations still need Baby Boomers: it’s because employing Boomers is good business.
The financial benefits are clear, both to individual companies and the wider economy. According to the Australian Human Rights Commission, increasing the employment of Australians over the age of 55 by a mere five per cent would positively impact the national economy by $48 billion.
Born between 1946 and 1961, Baby Boomers have historically been a force to reckon with and recent research from Hudson, detailed in The Great Generational Shift, shows this hasn’t changed. Baby Boomers continue to score highly on all traits associated with traditional leadership, including persuasion, motivation, and being decisive and strategic. The value that Boomers add filters down from the top.
In fact, one of the key findings from the research is that Baby Boomers score 34 per cent higher on the personality trait of ‘leading’ than Generation Y. They also score 28 per cent higher on ‘decisive’ and ‘motivating’, and 20 per cent higher on ‘persuasive’ and ‘strategic’. In other words, Baby Boomers lead the pack on traditional leadership styles, despite the oldest Gen X-er now approaching 50 years of age.
While changes in technology, workplace culture and how we communicate have seen a shift away from traditional leadership to make way for abstract thinking, high level social engagement skills and a more visionary and altruistic style (none of which are high on the list of Boomer traits), it’s well worth asking the question: should organisations really risk losing these traditional leadership traits in our upcoming talent pipeline, or should they be grabbing the mentoring opportunities Baby Boomers offer with both hands?
For corporations to compete in an ever expanding and changing market, these traits remain essential. Having Baby Boomers in an organisation offers younger generations an opportunity to see first-hand how they can enhance their leadership by mixing the older styles of hands-on persuasion and motivation in with the new, and showing them strategy and decision-making in action.
Baby Boomers are ideally placed to mentor and train younger colleagues – according to the Hudson research, based on surveys canvassing 28,000 people across 22 languages, Baby Boomers have more power and influence over others and a predilection towards decisive and strategic thinking.
Baby Boomers also have other key strengths that will remain important regardless of cultural and technological shifts and developments in the workplace. As much as abstract thinking is essential in an increasingly data-laden and competitive market, so is a person’s ability to stay steady under fire and handle a crisis with calm and confidence. Growing up in an era of reform and questioning to create change, Baby Boomers are blessed with plenty of emotional stability and resilience. In fact, they score 8 per cent higher on the personality trait of ‘stress-resistant’ than Generation Y.
Strong, confident leaders, ideal mentors, decisive and calm in a crisis, Boomers are also prized for their dedication and loyalty. With their more moderate levels of ambition compared to Gen Y, they tend to be stable, loyal employees. Unlike their younger counterparts who are keen to keep progressing to the next role to further their career, Baby Boomers are far less likely to cut and run the moment their current employer fails to offer them the opportunities to learn and continue to climb the ladder.