Stock - Boomer and millennial in office
There is still a lot of learning that organisations need to do about the millennials and Gen Z. Image Credit: Shutterstock

I have two daughters - one a millennial and the other a Gen Z. They are diligent, selective in their likes and dislikes and strongly oriented towards long-term stable careers. While my opinion may be considered biased, the reality isn’t too different.

We are constantly bombarded with generational stereotypes through media. Unlike what most headlines, reports and soundbytes claim, generational stereotypes are just that – a stereotype that propagates the myth that every generation is homogenous.

What Babyboomers, Gen X need to know

While Babyboomers (those born between 1946-64) and Gen X occupy leadership roles in the current workforce, they need to be able to lead by exploring the strengths of Gen Z and millennials in the workplace. More importantly, it could make leaders more successful by engaging them effectively. Here are a few truths about the misunderstood generations:

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They are not mercenaries

Gen Z and millennials are surprisingly more demanding of their employers beyond just the paycheck. Unlike other generations before them, they are likely to evaluate their employers more stringently on core values, purpose and social impact.

They are more positive in their orientation

Gen Z and millennials have a positive outlook on the future. They also believe they can make a positive difference and prefer employers who would enable them to do so. They are very visible in their involvement in movements related to climate change and sustainability.

They value self-development

Millennials and Gen Z are also invested in their own future. They value guidance, mentorship and counselling that helps them cope with the rapid changes around them. They will demonstrate their commitment to developing skills if you can clarify what is needed for success.

They are creators and risk-takers

Look around and you will find a vast ocean of Gen Z and millennials who have launched and scaled startups that are disrupting industries. None of the stereotypes about them holds when you look at the evidence from the startup world.

What Gen Z and millennials need to know

‘OK boomer’ is the colloquial response of Gen Z and millennials frustrated with the older generation. Yet not everyone fits the stereotype of Boomers and Gen X.

Hard-working, not workaholics

Just like Gen Z and millennials tapped into the digital revolution, the two generations before them rode the economic growth and the era of computers. They just had a lot of opportunities and went at it aware that it was cyclical and would change quickly. It wasn’t a mindless pursuit.

Just more comfortable online, not disengaged

Gen Xers are often stereotyped as being disengaged from society. This s may stem from the fact that Gen Xers were the first to grow up with the internet and social media, and may be more likely to express their opinions and concerns online than in person.

Tapped opportunities, not materialistic

Babyboomers are often stereotyped as being self-centred and materialistic. This stereotype may stem from the fact they came of age during a time of great economic prosperity, and they may have been more likely to focus on their own needs and desires than previous generations.

Simply a different mindset, not out of touch

Just like all generations, Boomers and Gen X suffer from the stereotype of being out of touch with the younger generations. This stereotype may stem from the fact that previous generations grew up at different times and may have difficulty relating to the younger generations who grew up with different technologies and social norms.

You can see a simple demonstration of how different generations view icons – millennials and Gen Z cannot relate to the external disk icon that is the ‘save’ button on most software even today.

Generational stereotypes are one of the biggest biases impacting workplace relationships and careers. It should be accorded the same priority as diversity and inclusion because generational DEI is the first step every organisation should take.

The workplace generational divide impacts productivity in many forms – rework, conflict, troubleshooting and morale. We can make the world a better place to work by simply accepting that a generation doesn’t act in a homogenous manner. We need to get comfortable with generation fluidity as a concept.

I identify more as a Gen Z - and yet sometimes worthy of being told ‘OK Boomer’ too.