It’s not uncommon to find a mix of millennials (those born between 1980 and 2000) and baby boomers (those born between 1946 and 1964) working for the same business.

Many boomers are company CEOs, CMOs or directors who have climbed the ladder and champion hard work, results and a well-developed sense of workplace professionalism.

This doesn’t, however, exclude them from a requirement for training - so how then does this relate when baby boomers are confronted with the task of training alongside frank and tech-savvy and “entitled” millennials?  

Remember that baby boomers are tech-savvy

It’s all too easy to assume that millennials; raised in a world of computers, internet and social media will be entirely tech savvy and their baby boomer counterparts will be dragging behind.

This often isn’t the case. The rise of the “silver surfer” means that as of 2016 83% of baby boomers are now regular internet users - not all that far behind the 97% of millennials; couple that with the fact 59% of boomers own a smartphone and 52% of them are on Facebook and it’s clear that you simply can’t assume all boomers are immune to modern technology.

For this reason, it shouldn’t only be millennials training that has a heavy technology focus - just make sure you retain a human touch.

There’s no “I” in team… is there?

The word “team” means very different things to millennials and baby boomers. Boomers very much appreciate the notion of working as a team and see their colleagues as their teammates who all work together for a combined goal.

Baby boomers, therefore, are going to be far more responsive to team training tasks and acknowledgement as a group for ideas, as well as praise for being able to work well with others. On the other hand, the “me” generation of millennials are more likely to be deterred by group praise as they may perceive that their personal achievements have not been recognised. For this reason, when training millennials with baby boomers it’s important to encompass a team effort with recognition of individual input and personal achievement.

Not all donkeys follow carrots

What might entice a millennial is often very different from what will entice a baby boomer. Millennials are far more likely to see themselves as “free agents” when it comes to employment - they are the work to live generation who prioritise work-life balance and therefore the offer of flexible training is going to be music to their ears.

Baby boomers, however, who have grown up in a culture of visible hard work and rewards for such, are less likely to see a flexible training schedule as a particular perk and instead are enticed by the idea of growth, development and achieving goals.

Offering different incentives to the different generations is far more likely to produce engagement and receptiveness to training from both groups, rather than forcing one to follow a carrot when all they really want is an apple.

Getting the most from training millennials and boomers together isn’t always easy but it is achievable and extremely rewarding. Millennials training alongside baby boomers creates a great opportunity for both groups to absorb some of each other’s mentalities and knowledge.

The key point here is to always remember that those born before 1964 are going to think differently to those born after 1980… but maybe they’re not quite as different as you think.