Harnessing Collaboration: Baby Boomers and Gen Z Unite for Success | Goldbeck Recruiting

Harnessing Collaboration: Baby Boomers and Gen Z Unite for Success

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In today’s diverse workforce, collaboration between generations is crucial for a harmonious and productive environment. Baby Boomers must understand and connect with their Generation Z colleagues in order to achieve success. This article explores six practical strategies for Baby Boomers to effectively collaborate with Gen Z (born 1997-2012), nurturing a vibrant and cohesive workplace.

1. Emphasize the Why: Recognizing the Unique Attributes of Generation Z

Gen Z employees want to understand the purpose and meaning behind their work. Explaining the “why” behind tasks and projects can motivate them to work harder and feel more invested in their work.

“Gen Z’s career choices and purchasing choices are driven by the impact these make in the world,” writes Jenny Fernandez for Harvard Business Review. “We all need to understand our roles and responsibilities in order to do our jobs, but Gen Z needs to understand how and why their role matters.”1

2. Provide Frequent Feedback: A Recipe for Growth and Success

Regular and constructive feedback is essential for growth and productivity. Gen Z, in particular  thrives on immediate feedback, which allows them to align their actions with desired outcomes. To facilitate this, Baby Boomers can serve as mentors, utilizing their experience to provide guidance and facilitate the professional development of their younger colleagues.

“Remember, too, that feedback works both ways,” advises workplace expert Natalie Nixon. “Give frequent, constructive feedback, and ask for their feedback on ways your company’s workflow, or even your personal communication, could be improved.2

3. Offer Opportunities for Growth and Development: Cultivating Ambition

Fernandez notes that Gen Z have grown up witnessing economic uncertainty and layoffs, often in their own households. 

“These employees want to know what is expected of them to advance and how they can be in control of their future,” she says. “Be sure to explain to them what it means to succeed as an individual contributor and future leader.”1

Gen Z employees are highly ambitious and seek continuous growth. Baby Boomers can nurture their professional advancement by offering training programs and skill-building opportunities. Identifying areas for improvement and providing resources such as workshops, online courses, or mentoring programs will help you engage and retain Gen Z talent. Additionally, Baby Boomers can outline clear career pathways, setting goals and providing guidance on achieving them. This empowers Gen Z employees to stay motivated and invested in their work.

4. Encourage Collaboration: Harnessing Collective Creativity

Collaboration is a cornerstone of Gen Z’s work style. Baby Boomers can foster this collaboration by establishing open communication channels and encouraging Gen Z employees to share ideas. This can be facilitated through regular team meetings, brainstorming sessions, and digital platforms. Moreover, promoting intergenerational collaboration through cross-generational mentoring allows each generation to learn from one another’s unique perspectives and experiences.

“Gen Z are accustomed to being asked their opinion and having it valued,” says Nixon. “That’s a good thing because a multi-directional intergenerational dialogue in the workplace brings about growth for all of us.”2

5. Use Technology to Your Advantage: Leveraging Digital Tools for Productivity

Gen Z employees are tech-savvy and expect to use technology in the workplace. Remember: they were plugged in before they learned to walk! Providing them with the latest technology and tools can help them be more productive and engaged.

Virtual collaboration tools like Slack or Trello facilitate seamless teamwork. Video conferencing platforms such as Zoom enable face-to-face interactions in remote work settings. Knowledge sharing platforms like Confluence or Google Drive promote collaboration and efficient knowledge transfer. Beyond these tools, industry-specific cutting edge technology is also seen as a plus, and those who employ it will be able to recruit and retain superior talent.

CEO of SGEi and ‘culture hacker’ Shane Green has noticed that Gen Z are more apt to communicate digitally, even regarding topics that would have traditionally been discussed behind closed doors.

“This is not to say they don’t like face-to-face meetings, but you should prepare yourself for more issues and problems to be communicated via technology, as this is their preferred medium,” he says. “Many Boomers will often interpret this as a sign of disrespect, but you must understand that this is merely how this new generation is growing up.”3

6. Promote Work-Life Balance: Prioritizing Well-being for All Generations

The pandemic led many Baby Boomers to re-assess their work-life balance and make changes accordingly. For Gen Z, this transformative event occurred much earlier in their careers, but the desire for a well-rounded life is shared.

Programs that prioritize physical and mental well-being will be appreciated. Promoting the importance of taking time off prevents overwork and burnout, enabling employees to recharge and bring their best selves to work. Perhaps this mutually shared value presents a bonding opportunity.

By understanding what makes Gen Z tick, Baby Boomers will be better able to relate, motivate, and collaborate with them in the workplace. Doing so will not only inspire more workplace harmony and better results, it will also encourage loyalty and retention.

Cited Sources

1 “Helping Gen Z Employees Find Their Place at Work.” Harvard Business Review, January 18, 2023. https://hbr.org/2023/01/helping-gen-z-employees-find-their-place-at-work.

2 Nixon, Natalie. “Can Boomers and Gen Z Happily Coexist at Work? Absolutely – and Here’s How.” Katie Couric Media, May 17, 2023.  https://katiecouric.com/lifestyle/workplace/gen-z-boomers-workplace-advice/.

3 Green, Shane. “Council Post: A Boomer’s Guide: Four Things to Know about Working with Gen Z.” Forbes, September 12, 2018. https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescoachescouncil/2018/09/12/a-boomers-guide-four-things-to-know-about-working-with-gen-z/?sh=e64a42b2b742.