Baby Boomers in the workplace

February 8, 2024
| ByMadison

While the workforce is continually evolving, 2023 was different. It was the first time in history that there were five generations in the workplace. Most workers from the Silent Generation have retired, but the current workplace is still the most diverse ever. This multi-generational workforce includes employees from:

  1. Baby Boomers
  2. Gen X 
  3. Millennials
  4. Gen Z

Each individual brings fresh perspectives and unique life experiences that are reshaping how we work. And that includes how we manage each generation. Baby Boomers have vastly different preferences and ways of doing things than the younger Gen Zers. In this three-part blog series, we’re breaking down how to work more effectively with each generation. Let’s explore Baby Boomers.

Who are the Baby Boomers?

Baby Boomers—Boomers for short—are the oldest generation in the workforce. Born after World War II between 1946 and 1964, this generation sits between the Silent Generation and Gen X.  Thanks to the post-war “baby boom,” Boomers were the largest generation ever (76 million) until 2019 when Millennials surpassed them.

Baby Boomers share a few common traits:

  • They put work before their personal lives. Opposite to Gen X, Boomers prioritize their work over personal time and tend not to have any interest in work-life balance.
  • They’re not tech-savvy. While Boomers are willing to learn, they struggle more than any other generation with technology.
  • They’re more traditional. Boomers grew up in more traditional households, with one parent working, and one at home. Their traditional upbringing shapes how they work.

Baby Boomers in the workplace

As the oldest generation still working, it’s not surprising that Baby Boomers prefer a more “old school” style of work. They prioritize work over their personal lives (in part due to their insecurity about the future) and believe in structure. Let’s explore a few other characteristics of this generation.

  • Boomers are competitive—they want to be the best at everything, making their work ethic unmatched
  • Their competitive nature makes Boomers strive for prestigious titles and salaries
  • A hard-working generation, Boomers won’t work for free—they want to be recognized and rewarded
  • Boomers look for top-tier benefits, like comprehensive health care and 401(k)s, and public recognition
  • Because they’re anxious about the future, Boomers tend to stay with employers who make them feel secure and keep them employed—no job-hopping here
  • They want a structured, traditional workplace that includes more established leaders, loyal employees, and a respect-driven environment, especially for older authority figures
  • Boomers are slower adopters of technology, but they’ll learn to use the tools necessary to do their jobs


Baby Boomer communication preferences

Millennials, Gen Z, and even some members of Gen X grew up with some form of technology, which has shaped their preference for tech-driven communication. Baby Boomers did not. They prefer face-to-face communication, but in the new distributed workforce, they’ve had to adjust. 

  • They still value a phone call and a virtual face-to-face call using Zoom or other videoconferencing platforms
  • Boomers prefer a more personal communication style over email and collaboration tools like Slack
  • Authority and respect rank high on a Boomer’s list of workplace etiquette, driving their expectations that younger or subordinate employees treat more established workers and leaders with more of a “Yes, sir!” attitude

Motivating Baby Boomers

Because Boomers care about title and prestige more than any other generation, they can be somewhat easier to motivate or incentivize to keep doing great work. But they crave—and expect—recognition and rewards for their hard work. Here are a few ways you can give them what they’re looking for:

  • Celebrate work anniversaries and milestones in a big way
  • Give them public recognition—when they do a good job, get promoted, close a client, or anything else you’d celebrate
  • Reward them financially, whether it’s a pay raise, bonus, or promotion
  • Promote Boomers and give them a fancy title to go with
  • Gift cards, public shoutouts, and verbal praise go a long way with Boomers

Moving forward

Baby Boomers bring a wealth of life experience, an enviable work ethic, and a can-do attitude to the workplace. But like any other generation, they have unique needs and a preferred way to work. It’s your job to manage, recognize, and reward them in a way that keeps them at their best. 

Not sure how to do that? We’re here to help. We'll show you how to recognize and reward your Boomer employees how they want. And if you want to learn more about this new intergenerational workforce, download our ebook.

At Madison Recognition our work is rooted in the belief that unleashing the productive potential of employees with reward and recognition programs and empowering individuals will help us stay ahead of workforce trends. Want to learn more about working with Gen Z? Download our white paper.

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