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The Friction Between Millennials and Baby Boomers in The Workplace in Singapore 2018

Taha Khan

Generational workforce translates into an ever-changing dynamic work, where managers need to handle employees between 18 and 60 years of age. They are all part of four different generations that have their own beliefs and work style.

Millennials are the newest generation to join the workforce, and many HR managers in Singapore 2018 have already started to complain about them. Besides, a multi-generational workforce is tough to handle, especially when they are so different from each other in almost all aspects of life. Right now, more than 1 million Millennials work in Singapore, which is 22% of the entire population. This means you cannot ignore their existence at work and the difference that arises between them and older generations.


Different Values or Are They Just Stubborn?

Managers complain that Millennials are so stubborn and they don’t get along at work with other employees from different generations, talking about the friction between baby boomers and Millennials. Are their values just so different? Do they have other priorities in life or are Millennials just stubborn and childish?

First, let’s learn more about these two generations.

Baby Boomers are born between 1946 and 1964 and have witnessed the transformation of Singapore, going from kampungs to HDB estates. They are optimistic people and believe in hard work, sacrifice and commitment and the values that lead where you want to go and that ultimately pay off.

Millennials are born between 1977 and 1995 and are the last generation to have entered the work field right now. They have been exposed to technology from childhood and experienced various types of new digital inventions, such as social media. They believe these can positively influence us and change lives. They have also experienced the effects of capitalism in our communities and the impact of irresponsible corporations on the quality of life, and that’s why they are socially conscious and don’t usually stay loyal to companies.

The common thing between all the generations is that they think they are the best. Therefore, getting along at work can be quite difficult, and the solution is everyone should work together to find a better work balance.


Perspective on Work

Millennials are viewed as lazy and entitled by other generations, but especially by Baby Boomers, which believe that hard work is the key to success and sacrifices are to be made if you want to reach your dreams. However, Millennials do work anywhere between 40 and 50 hours per week, and they put in their effort. What Baby Boomers don’t understand is that Millennials work differently, thanks to their native use of technology. They value flexible hours, working remotely and want more freedom when it comes to doing tasks. These are two very different generations that completely have opposite views of what work means.

Millennials are more likely to drive efficiency at work and find creative solutions when they encounter a problem. Flexibility is being adopted by other generations as well, especially by Gen X, but most people from the Baby Boomer generation simply can’t understand this new form of working.


Qualified for The Job?

Baby Boomers are very appreciated in workspaces as they are productive individuals that always cherish hard work. They are very loyal and willing to work extra to complete their tasks. They have many good skills and put them to good use in organizations where they feel valued. They have the capacity to break down large projects into smaller tasks and manage them perfectly. At the office, they prefer one-on-one conversation and are very direct and diplomatic.

Millennials, on the other hand, are very open-minded and excited about career and career opportunities. They always engage in multi-tasking and are goal-oriented. Millennials often want to have an honest relationship with their superiors and want to really enjoy the job and their colleagues at work. They rely on technology very much, being passionate about finding new creative solutions.


Millennials and Baby Boomers – Could This Work?

Specialists say that putting together two very different type of employees in the same room could work for both of them. While this could be a bit of a challenge, if you master the balance between the two, you can gain impressive results.

The common aspect between the two generations is that they seek respect. Baby Boomers need acknowledgment and respect from their younger colleagues, while Millennials need recognition at work regardless of their level of experience or age. If they receive what they need, Baby Boomers and Millennials could make a great diverse team as they complete each other well at work – Millennials need supervision and direction while Baby Boomers could learn to balance their work and life better from their younger colleagues.

While the relationship between the two generations could also create friction between the two, Millennials and Baby Boomers can get along well with the right tools at hand. A mentorship program between employees of different ages is a very effective way to help the two different groups communicate and work together better. Each team will get to learn new skills and develop accordingly by learning from the other side.

To make the relationship between Baby Boomers and Millennials work, a manager must create an open space at work where communication between employees is encouraged, and everyone can express his or her opinion freely, without any fear of being judged.

It’s true that different generations will have contrasting opinions on work, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they will disagree and create conflict between them. If managed well, in an open work environment that values differences and respects every employee, the differences between the two generations can be an asset for the company and, at the same time, a learning resource for the employees.

If you want to reduce the friction between Millennials and Baby Boomers at work, you can try to identify the various methods to communicate with all generations. You can also opt to set the weekly/monthly meetings that fit in all schedules and focus on learning from each other’s experience, skills, etc.

Having Baby Boomers and Millennials in the same office can be a goldmine for your employees – your responsibility is to create a comfortable environment for them to work together.



Here are some other interesting articles you should check out:

・8 Food Trends for 2018 in Singapore

・Top 10 Jobs That Millennials Want to Get

・The Best Jeff Bezos Quotes

(By Taha Khan)

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