Posted on: 18 April 2018
Getting Down to Business with the Boomers
The Baby Boomer generation has come under fire for a series of dangerous myths which threaten to spread resentment amongst our current multi-generational workforce. There is a growing perception that boomers are standing in the way of development and change, and that they will become a drain on the economy and the workplace.
However, the truth is that they are more likely to be loyal to a job, work longer hours and have amassed more years working experience than any other generation.
Let’s have a quick look at some common Baby Boomer myths.
Myth 1: Baby Boomers can’t deal with new technology.
While Boomers may not be tech natives like Generation Z, or even as tech savvy as Millennials, they are catching up. In fact, baby boomers are the fastest growing demographic on social media, with the numbers using twitter and Facebook steadily rising. Older workers are eager to learn new skills, and research suggests that they may actually have superior study habits and make mistakes less frequently than younger learners.
If you’re still worried about introducing your Boomers to new technology, then why not utilise face to face introductions to their new tech. We find face to face interactions to be invaluable when enrolling new members to their benefits programmes during roll-outs.
Myth 2: Baby Boomers don’t like change.
Boomers are just as adaptable as anyone else, they’re just more likely to want to understand the reasons for change. They’ve likely been with the company for longer, and feel a sense of loyalty towards to continuation of the ‘brand’. This can be a huge asset - It’s far better to have an employee who will point out any possible flaws in a plan rather than someone who will just blindly follow.
Myth 3: Baby Boomers take more sick days than younger workers.
In fact, baby boomers actually take fewer days off than younger workers. Research has found that millennials are about twice as likely to take a day off than baby boomers. However, due to their age, health, travel and life insurance can be more expensive, which means that older workers may be more motivated by health-related benefits. It is possible for employers to offer these as an optional benefit, either company paid or at an additional cost to the employee, which allows them to access the benefit at a reduced price.
Myth 4: Older workers are more expensive.
Although it may seem as though your older workers are working less, as they are the most likely demographic to take all of their annual leave, it turns out that they are actually more cost effective to employ in the long run due to their higher retention rates.
More workers should take holiday like the boomers do, as, for some, annual leave is one of very few chances they get to truly forget about work. Time off has been proven to reduce stress and increase productivity in the workplace, so it’s no wonder that Boomers are working longer.
Additionally, older workers are less likely to have dependents on any company paid healthcare plans, as their children will be adults themselves. For the same reason, they may also require less emergency leave due to childcare difficulties (that’s not to say that some grandparents are not still called in to look after grandchildren, but they will not have the same day to day pressures of childcare).
Myth 5: Older workers are less productive.
A lot of Boomers are continuing their careers beyond the traditional retirement age in roles which involve far more mental than physical ability. Boomers are not only staying for longer in these roles, but they are also thriving. “In jobs where knowledge is the basis, you don’t see a performance deficit with age,” said Laura Carstensen, a psychologist and director of the Stanford Center on Longevity.
It is not just that they need to work financially, they want to keep working. This is, in part, due to the acknowledgment they receive that they are still doing a good job.
Boosting Benefits for Boomers
So, make sure you keep your focus on reward and recognition for your Boomer workforce, don’t underestimate them or their continued ambition, consider implementing health cover, either as a company paid or optional benefit, and make sure to keep up good face to face communications when introducing new technologies.
Want more info? Check out our myths articles for each generation in your workforce here, and check out our benefits audit checklist to figure out how to update your benefits to better suit the needs of your multi-generational workforce.