Baby Boomers Generation: Definition and Characteristics

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 28 September 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Baby boomers are an integral part of the workforce in various industries. They share certain characteristics and core values, which may differ or relate to those of other generations. Learning these characteristics can help you understand how to develop a working relationship with members of this generation. In this article, we define the baby boomer generation, outline their characteristics and explain how to work with them.

What is the baby boomers generation?

The baby boomers generation consists of people born between 1946 and 1964. The name baby boomer comes from the fact that there was an increase in births during this period following World War II. According to the National Archives of Singapore, there are about one million baby boomers, consisting of 30% of the resident population. The first group of baby boomers turned 65 years old in 2012. Here's an outline of the baby boomer generation in relation to other generations:

  • Traditionalists: This generation is also known as the silent generation, born before 1946. Individuals from this generation are loyal and conventional and show strong devotion to what they do.

  • Baby boomers: Born between 1946 and 1964, this generation has focus, discipline and a strong work ethic.

  • Generation X: Individuals from this generation were born between 1965 and 1980. They're an entrepreneurial generation who are self-sufficient and work-life balance-focused.

  • Millennials: Born between 1981-1996, this generation is confident and tech-savvy and values work-life balance.

  • Generation Z: This generation encompasses all individuals born after 1996. They're self-sufficient, competitive and entrepreneurial.

Related: A Guide to Working With Members of Gen Z (Plus Definition)

Characteristics of the baby boomers generation

While not every member of this generation has the same traits, here are some typical characteristics of the baby boomer generation you might encounter when working with these professionals:

Strong and focused work ethic

Baby boomers are typically hard-working individuals who often define themselves by their professional accomplishments. These individuals take pride in the positions they hold and the time they spent working in a company. They understand that success comes from putting time and effort into their work and may sacrifice work-life balance to achieve goals. Many individuals from this generation grew up in disciplined households, so they may demonstrate the same discipline in their work.

Individuals from this generation may choose to work past retirement age but may change the types of jobs they do. For example, some may engage in volunteer work while others might pursue part-time roles. This generation is also motivated to learn new skills to keep up with current trends and practices. They have high attention spans and can focus on specific topics.

Related: How to Demonstrate a Strong Work Ethic to Your Employer

Independent

Many members of this generation grew up with the mentality of being self-reliant and working hard to achieve their goals. They enjoy solving problems on their own and rarely ask for help. Many baby boomers prefer to work on projects alone to completion. These individuals are confident and unafraid to challenge existing practices in the workplace.

Competitive

Baby boomers experienced a competitive job market because of the rise in the population. Their competitive nature began during their upbringing, when they competed for things in school. They do what it takes to achieve their dreams and seek promotions and acknowledgements in the workplace. This competitive nature may contribute to their value for workplace visibility. Baby boomers may enjoy their superiors seeing them work hard every day and want to receive acknowledgement for their efforts.

Goal-oriented

This generation enjoys setting goals for themselves and working towards company goals. They apply this mindset to their professional and personal lives. Giving them workplace goals and tracking their progress often motivates them to work harder towards attaining them. Their discipline and focus contribute to their goal-oriented mentality.

Related: How to Achieve Goals in 8 Steps (With Common Benefits)

Resourceful

Baby boomers grew up in an era when it was essential to work with what was available. This mentality allows them to be resourceful in the work environment. They can adapt their skills and knowledge to manage various work tasks.

Experienced

Many baby boomers prefer to work in the same company and seek advancement within it, so they have in-depth knowledge of that company's operational procedures and goals. They often hold leadership positions within these companies and oversee the training and mentorship of new employees. Some baby boomers may trust older individuals who've had more experience than them in the industry, but this is changing because, with the rise of the tech industry, younger individuals often have more expertise.

Related: What Is Employee Experience? (With Benefits and Tips)

Self-assured

Baby boomers may ask questions even if it means challenging a superior or a workplace norm and are unafraid of sharing their opinions. These individuals speak out when they feel others are violating their values or disrespecting their opinions. When training someone from this generation, it's essential to let them have control over their learning experience.

Value relationships

Members of this generation may have grown up together in families and shared friendships. They often have strong family values and prioritise their bonds with others. They bring this mindset into the workplace, where they have positive working relationships with colleagues and mentees.

Enjoy quality and excellence

Baby boomers may enjoy a lifestyle of quality and excellence. They enjoy products and services that make their lives easier. They apply this standard to their work so that in whatever they do, the outcome is of high quality. A significant portion of their professional identity is how a company values their work. Baby boomers care about their professional appearance, so they're more likely to dress formally in the workplace and may expect others to do the same.

How to work with the baby boomer generation

Consider the following tips on how to work with the baby boomer generation:

1. Understand baby boomers

Because of their upbringing, baby boomers value hard work and dedication to the job. They believe in demonstrating professionalism in how you dress, interact with others and follow systems and rules. Millennials and Generation Z individuals are more flexible in the work environment. Navigating these different mentalities may be challenging, but understanding how each generation works can help develop a suitable collaborative environment where everyone is comfortable.

Related: Starting Your Career Virtually: Tips for Gen Z in the Workplace

2. Facilitate collaboration

It's essential to create diverse teams of people from different generations so they can communicate and learn from each other. This eliminates any misconceptions or stereotypes each generation may have towards the other. It also encourages creativity and productivity because everyone contributes a different viewpoint. Shuffling desks and workstations can encourage people from different generations to get to know each other and build harmony. Team-building activities can also encourage collaboration between people from different generations.

Related: 11 Team-Building Activities for Companies (With Tips)

3. Introduce mentorship programmes

Mentorship programmes allow baby boomers to share their experiences and expertise with members of younger generations. This occurs through the traditional form of mentorship. Baby boomers can also learn from younger generations through a reverse mentorship format. This leads to improved collaboration among employees from different generations. There are several benefits of mentorship for all generations, including:

  • Gaining knowledge: Baby boomers can share valuable knowledge from their personal and professional experiences to impact younger employees. They can also learn valuable skills from younger employees, such as tech skills.

  • Growing personal networks: Individuals from different generations can increase their networks with others through mentorship. This can lead to career advancement opportunities.

  • Learning different perspectives: Mentorship programmes allow people from different generations to gain different perspectives about work and life, which can improve innovation and creativity.

  • Improving soft skills: Mentorship programmes involve communication, relationship building and active listening. Being part of such a programme can help all individuals grow these skills.

  • Getting inspiration: Baby boomers can inspire others to work towards their goals by acting as role models. They can also receive inspiration from younger employees to widen their perspectives.

Related: How to Create a Mentoring Programme in 10 Key Steps

4. Engage in social activities

Engaging in social activities with individuals from this generation can improve working relationships. Consider asking them what they enjoy doing outside the office and share those experiences with them. Invite them to perform fun activities with you. Baby boomers value relationships, connections, creativity and optimism, so they may enjoy activities with colleagues outside the work environment that involve these things.

Please note that none of the companies, institutions or organisations mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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