I recently shared why Millennials are getting fired, and it started an intense discussion. Now, it's time to discuss why seasoned workers, a.k.a. Baby Boomers, are getting fired too.
Over 50? You're more likely to have long-term unemployment woes.
The rate of long-term unemployment is highest over the age of 50. As companies embrace the value proposition of hiring Millennial workers (in spite of their anger toward their shortcomings), Baby Boomers who can't deliver the same value will be let go. Yes, there are laws against age discrimination, but when companies follow proper protocol and can prove you aren't being singled out solely based on age, they can (and will) let you go.
Boomers, here's what gets you fired.
As companies re-evaluate their corporate cultures to determine how to create environments that support the newer generation of workers, some are learning their Baby Boomer employees are making the job tougher. The solution? Eliminate the source of resistance.
1. Employers need affordable specialists, not expensive generalists.
Boomer skills and methodical approaches to work aren't cutting it anymore. The workplace has become extremely agile. Duties and responsibilities are constantly changing. Boomers can no longer assume years of experience are enough to ensure long-term employment -- it actually works against you. Why not hire two Millennials for the price of one Boomer? Restructurings will be the "new normal" as employers redefine roles so they can eliminate workers with skills not in alignment with what they need to stay competitive. Heck, Google just did it! You may argue professionalism and industry knowledge should count for something. But they mean nothing if you can't use them to deliver a cost-effective, timely service. It's not personal, it's business.
Tip: Seek out Millennial workers and politely (see No. 3 below) ask for help developing your tech skills. Speed matters. If you aren't leveraging technology to do more work faster, and with greater accuracy, you're aging yourself out of the workplace. Not to mention, the more Millennial co-workers you can befriend, the better. They already make up half the workforce. It's more than likely one you work with today could be your boss tomorrow.
2. Senior team members are more evolved -- and should act accordingly.
Many Baby Boomers appear to have forgotten they were once inexperienced too. As we age, the experience we gain feels like a well-fitting pair of shoes. We forget there was ever a "breaking in" period. The result? Boomers criticizing newer, younger workers for their lack of skills and professionalism, instead of seeing an opportunity to help them find their internal motivation for work. Tough love isn't the answer, nor is excessive praise. What they want is proper coaching: positively constructed feedback on how to get better; a chance to ask lots of questions (regardless of how basic they may sound), so they can understand the bigger picture and find their purpose and impact. Being the "Millennial Whisperer" of the office can save your job, whereas being the "Millennial Antagonist" can help you lose it.
Tip: Go back in time and think about all the mentors you had who helped you close the gap in your knowledge and experience. How do you feel about them? Did they expect lots of praise and recognition of their efforts to help you? Now, choose some younger workers and take them under your wing. Don't expect any thanks. Just remember, you're paying it forward like others did for you.
3. Company culture must be properly represented.
As we age and have increased pressures in life (i.e. aging parents, kids, home, spouse, financial responsibilities, health, etc.), we can often bring our stress to the job. We may think we're hiding it, but we aren't. Boomers who aren't properly managing their stress often show it in their workplace personality -- making everyone around them uncomfortable. It's not what you say, it's how you say it. Snarky comments and humorous putdowns may seem innocent and a great way to passively vent frustrations, but they negatively represent the company. So does losing your cool and having no patience for less experienced or skilled co-workers. Years of "paying dues" doesn't entitle you to act this way. You're paid to represent the company properly -- both inside and out. Employers need seasoned workers who display consistent positivity in the workplace. Fact: Your attitude guides the attitudes of all newer, younger workers. No need to keep you around if you bring the place down. When turnover increases, HR looks at management and co-workers to see if they're the cause. Moving you out so Millennials don't keep quitting will be their next business move. They need the Millennial workers more than they need you.
Tip: Try to catch yourself before you make statements that can be interpreted as all-knowing or condescending. Leave out statements like, "when I was your age," and "you're too young to understand this." Additionally, invest some time in learning about emotional intelligence in the workplace. Understanding how you are being misperceived and adjusting some of your communication style can make you more valuable to employers. They need seasoned professionals who can properly represent the positive aspects of the company's culture.
Why Aren’t We Figuring This Out?
The real generational disconnect lies in both sides afraid of being wrong. Thus, I'm asking readers:
A) Why are we failing so badly at teaming up?
B) Why does each side think it's the other's job to be more understanding?
I'd love to hear your thoughts on this!