Seek To Understand Part II: The Baby Boomer Generation

Understanding the differences between our generations is a core building block to a successful multigenerational workplace. Each generation has unique life and socioeconomic experiences that have molded their values, beliefs, preferences, and expectations and impacted who they are as a group.

Baby Boomers: Born 1946-1964

This generation was born during the post-World War II baby boom and numbers about 78 million strong. While their parents unwaveringly adhered to rules, Baby Boomers are not afraid to challenge rules when necessary. Work is their life, however, and they are willing to keep the same job for many years.

Common Characteristics

Optimistic

Systems-oriented

Independent

Work-centric

Question Authority

Competitive

Socially Conscious

Idealistic

Resourceful

The Baby Boomer generation has had a tremendous impact on our social, cultural and economic scene. They are right now the largest economic group in the US. Baby Boomers are very well educated and quite affluent as a group. Not surprisingly, they are the generation who is reading our newspapers, keeping up with current affairs socially, politically, and economically, but believe it or not are also the generation who is watching more TV than any other. Boomers have money and they like to spend it!

Although the Baby Boomer generation name was derived from the overwhelming number of births during the timeframe attributed to their generation, they also grew up when the US economy was ‘booming’ right along with them and their collective voice ‘boomed’ as they rallied in support of social change and the human rights movement. This generation grew up wealthier and had an abundance of opportunities. They lived in a world distanced from financial worry. Growing up in an era of reform, Boomers tend to believe they can “change the world”, and they often try.

Notable Baby Boomer Generation Members

Ronald Reagan

David Letterman

Madonna

Tom Hanks

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Bill Gates

Bill Clinton

Bruce Springsteen

In the workplace Baby Boomers desire to have a worthwhile career and are defined by their job. They are many times said to “live to work” in contrast to the generation who followed them (Gen X) who is said to “work to live”. They use their resourcefulness and individualistic natures to pull ahead of the pack and strive for the “win”. They believe in a system of hierarchy at the office, and they don’t adapt well to current trends like the flexibility of working from home. This often leads to discord between Boomers and younger generations in the same office. Boomers are at the point now where they are done with the corporate “ladder climbing” and are happily running many of your companies. Most are set to retire soon. However, a number of the Baby Boomer generation are business owners, their personal identities tied so closely to their life’s work, that they may in fact never truly retire.

Filed in Baby Boomer Generation, Generational Understanding, Understanding Your Customer

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