Millennials and Baby Boomers: Why They’re More Alike Than You Think / Leadership / Last Modified: March 15, 2018
Image credit: stockfour/Shutterstock

Rather than looking at your workers' generational differences, celebrate what they have in common, like hard work, collaboration and shared values.

Millennials are entitled and spoiled, according to baby boomers. Baby boomers ruined the economy and job market for future generations to come, according to millennials. Or so the clickbait headlines would have you believe, anyway.

Are we ready to hang up the think piece hat on this topic yet? Is there any relevancy to these stereotypes anymore?

As it turns out, the answer is yes (to ending the negative narrative about millennials versus baby boomers) and no (we don’t need to keep these tired stereotypes alive). In the Second Annual Employment Report from FreshBooks, baby boomers are either catching up to or outpacing millennials entirely when it comes to self-employment. Findings from the study reveal that by 2020, 27 million Americans will have left traditional work in favor of self-employment. Of the more than 2,700 respondents surveyed in the study, 49 percent of baby boomers are self-employed. This sharply contrasts to 18 percent of millennials in self-employment roles.

It’s time to stop pitting these two generations against one another. Instead, let’s highlight what makes them so similar to one another, whether they’re working in a traditional workplace or identify as self-employed.

1. They're committed to working hard and stressing less.

According to the report, 74 percent of individuals expect to work harder when self-employed. Working hard also means stressing less, with 43 percent seeking self-employment thanks to the control it gives them over their careers.

For millennials, this means taking the reins to actively grow their business/brand and experience. For baby boomers, it’s a chance to start a new business or tap into an existing interest. Both parties are in the same boat in that they will continue to work hard, but have flexibility that gives them a healthy work/life balance. This kind of career satisfaction spills over into other aspects of life too, positively impacting lifestyles, health, and relationships for both generations.

2. They're willing to give and take as a team.

Age is still nothing but a number! According to Adobe 99U, millennials and boomers each have their own core energies, according to Adobe 99u. For millennials, this is potential. They’re fresh to the working world and willing to put in the hard work necessary to make a difference. For boomers, this is experience. They’ve done the time and know the ins and outs of their respective industries. All of that wisdom is just waiting to be passed along to the next round of newbie employees.

Put them side by side and you can expect the two generations to give and take as a team. Fifty-two percent of workers prepare for self-employment by teaching themselves new skills, so why not teach one another lessons in what you already know that they might not? This kind of shared perspective ultimately benefits both the individual and their self-employed endeavor.

3. Their values are closely aligned.

In spite of their differences and backgrounds, millennials and baby boomers go into self-employment for many of the same reasons. They’re passionate about their line of work and want to be successful. They want to keep learning and continuing their education. Most of all though, they want to give back. Both generations want to see the world become a better place and look forward to mentoring those that come after them to keep paying it forward.

As you can see, it’s not about dividing the two generations but bringing them, and their many similarities, together. Self-employment may come with its fair share of challenges, but millennials and baby boomers can turn weaknesses into strengths simply by working as a team.

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