Millennials vs. Baby Boomers – The Key Differences in How They Learn + How to Engage Them Both

Janine Anderson
Posted: July 20, 2016

As humans, we often gravitate towards those that are like us. We are creatures of habit and drawn to that which we know. To that end, many relationships, both personal and professional, are formed on the basis of shared interest. Sometimes those interests are obvious, sometimes not.

But what about the relationships not formed on shared interest, or with those we don’t get to choose? Enter your clients, colleagues and coworkers. Sometimes, it’s not so obvious what we may have in common with others. Maybe the only commonality we have is that we work for the same company, report to the same boss or get excited about donuts (everyone loves donuts right?).

Consider your cubicle mate. He’s been around since what seems like the dark ages, still uses actual post-it notes, owns a flip-phone, has an extensive collection of Beatles CDs on his desk and references a printed copy of your department’s policy and procedure manual often.


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While you aren’t entirely opposed to the Beatles, you don’t use post-it notes (there’s an app for that), you’ve never owned a flip-phone (how did people even survive without the ability to text?) and you find that printing manuals isn’t environmentally conscious.
Your coworker is a Baby Boomer. You are a Millennial, a multi-tasking, social media posting, highly educated but new to your career Millennial. While they may seem vast, you will find there are likely more similarities than you think, but it’s the differences that collectively make us better as a whole.


Key Differences

Baby Boomers (1944-1964)

  • View managers as experts
  • Consensus-oriented
  • Acquire technology
  • Build consensus
  • Loyal to career and employers
  • Workaholics/Invented 50 hr. work week
  • Value achievement

Millennials (1980-2000)

  • View managers as coaches and mentors
  • Teamwork-oriented
  • Integrate technology
  • Individualistic but group-oriented
  • Seek out experience, training/development opportunities wherever they can get it
  • Multi-taskers, work efficiently, no work-life distinction
  • Value individuality

[Tweet “Acknowledging our generational differences is the first step toward understanding. – @ttcInnovations”]

Acknowledging the lens through which others approach things can be a first step towards understanding.  Keep these key differences in mind and remember to respect and honor the differences.  While they may seem vast, you will find that are likely more similarities than you think, but it’s the differences that collectively make us better as a whole.

If you’re struggling with overcoming generational differences in your workplace, you may be interested in learning more about our two-day workshop – The Millennial Project! In this interactive workshop, you and your co-workers will discover how to embrace generational differences to create a cohesive workplace and a cultivate a supportive environment for all! 

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