The Generations Project: Baby boomers in the workplace

Published: .
Updated: .

INDIANAPOLIS - Most workplace environments are multi-generational, from millennials to the "silent generation" born between 1927 and 1945. Each group will tell you there are core values that distinguish one from the other.

Brandon Jones is a millennial and says, "I don't believe in having anything unless you work for it. You don't find very many young people that believe that."

"I think they've lost a lot of the moral values that we used to have back then and family values," said baby boomer Mark Turner.

Nancy Beck is a boomer. "Baby boomers are real clear about wanting personal life balance," she said.

The generational diversity vividly plays out at Café Patachou.

Nelly Steelis is the Human Resources Director at the north side business.

"We all relate to each other well. There's a commonality that we find in food. And then friendships build because we're all working toward the same thing," she said.

Café Patachou owner John Hoover says a multi-generational workplace fosters a deeper understanding of one another and ultimately bridges any gaps that may exist and creates workplace loyalty.

"The workforce for us is really beyond belief because that really kind of, I think, demonstrates the type of workforce that you have that people don't want to leave," said Hoover.

Generational Expert Chuck Underwood says boomers typically are not only bold and visionary leaders, but they care about the organization and are willing to go the extra mile.

"Baby boomers are team players, group think, we, us. I'm in it, I'll help the company. Gen X'ers are very different, independent, self-reliant, individualistic. Gen X'ers have came of age when employers were laying off their own mothers and fathers and they said I'm not going to grow up and pledge blind loyalty to an employer. I will always be a career free agent," said Underwood.

Underwood also believes boomers are more skilled as people leaders and will likely never fully retire. If they do retire from career number one, it won't be long before they launch career number two, which is likely their true passion.

Nancy Beck is a baby boomer and a financial expert.

"I'll soon be 60 years old but I still feel good about working. I just have a client that's now starting at the YMCA as a trainer and involved with Weight Watchers. How neat is that? That's been her dream to help people, totally different than she did at work," said Beck.

Experts say work for Boomers is a means to an end - not a lifestyle.

"I could do extra work, make more money and put it away but then I wouldn't have time to spend with my kids," said Dean Owen, baby boomer.

Steel, who is also a boomer, said, "It's important for me to make sure that we speak everyone's language, so to speak, and accommodate everyone's need. If we have a happy workforce then we've got a productive workforce."

"There's still a hesitation by boomer bosses to delegate a lot of important authority to many X'ers," said Chuck Underwood.

The Generations Project