Today’s multi-generational workforce spans from age 21 to 70+, making the average American office a very interesting place. From Baby Boomers to Millennials—there’s a lot of different work styles, values and energy to behold.
But with this smorgasbord of workers, younger employees are discovering that they can learn a thing or two from their seasoned colleagues. Read on to find out how the baby boomers have made their mark: not only in the business world, but in how they’ve helped the workplace evolve into a more integrated and healthy environment.
Workstyle Innovation, Brought To You By Boomers
- Workplace diversity: Boomers are responsible for forcing workplaces to evolve from a fairly racially homogenous, often chauvinist environment to once of increased diversity. As the office began to reflect political and social changes, terms like “glass ceiling” and “equal opportunity workplace” were born. Today’s workplace is very different from the one Boomers first entered.
- What color is your parachute? Baby Boomers pioneered the use of personality tests as a way of determining new hires or how to change the existing culture in a dysfunctional office. Under their watch, the field of Human Resources has ballooned. It makes sense, since one of the reasons why Human Resources became de rigueur was to keep an eye out for discriminatory activity in the office.
- Come on, get healthy: Boomers introduced the concept of Employee Assistance Programs (EAP). Initially conceived as a way to guide people to treatment for substance abuse, anger management, or other behavioral issues that impact job performance, EAP programs have since come to encompass assistance with work stress, family issues, assessment for depression and anxiety, as well as financial and legal issues. But it’s not only mental health – Boomers have also driven the prevalence of on-site office fitness centers. Boomers were the first group to take a real look at the health and safety of the employee, realizing the significant productivity hit that a sick or injured employee could cause.
- Retirement, sh-metirement: Baby Boomers have experienced plenty of economic upheaval during their careers. And, chances are, their 401ks took a significant hit in 2008-09. Because of that, they’re staying at jobs longer, particularly in the private sector. This has meant that the ascendancy of Gen X has been significantly slowed, creating its own set of challenges. In working long after the once traditional retirement age, however, Boomers have shown how workers can continue being valued, productive members of the workforce long after they turn 65.
- Not easy being green: Boomers are the generation that first experimented with and popularized telecommuting and carpooling as ways to cut down on environmental pollution, while also providing a boost to work-life balance. They have also pushed the implementation of corporate recycling programs, as well as corporate giving to non-profits.
Have we left anything out? We welcome comments below.