Why millennials and boomers are more similar than you think

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Millennials and baby boomers are often thought to be on opposite ends of the workplace spectrum but a new study is casting doubt on that assumption after uncovering a number of similarities.

Conducted by recruitment firm Robert Walters, the Trans-Tasman research found that both baby boomers and millennials are best motivated by the same thing – their ability to make an impact and do meaningful work.

In contrast, the top motivating factor for generation x was to meet financial commitments such as supporting their family or paying a mortgage.

The study also found that age discrimination was a shared experience between boomers and younger workers with 84 per cent of millennials saying they had been overlooked for promotion because of their age and 54 per cent of boomers saying the same.

Baby boomers also reported a strong presence of age discrimination in the recruitment process with three-quarters saying they had experienced it during job interviews compared to 34 per cent of millennials.

This was backed up as a real concern with half of hiring managers reporting age discrimination in the recruitment process and 58 per cent saying they had seen people passed over for promotion because of their age.

"Age discrimination is felt by all the generations interviewed, however younger and older workers share more in common in terms of working styles and career aspirations than previously thought, and it's these commonalities that employers should nurture and develop,” said Shay Peters, country manager for Robert Walters New Zealand.

Despite the raft of similarities, the two generations do seem to clash – in fact, more than half of millennials said they’d experienced workplace conflict and baby boomers were the ones most likely to cause a problem.

One in four said a source of conflict was the reluctance by colleagues to use new technology at work and the same number said the thought older generations were set in their ways.

However, eight out of 10 older workers said they prefer to use new ways of working rather than tried-and-tested methods and said they would feel lost without technology as part of their daily life.

For baby boomers, “differing levels of work ethic and commitment" was the most likely cause of conflict between the generations.

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