Twenty years ago, the Boomer generation couldn’t wait until the Millennial generation hit the workforce. They were going to be the next great generation and we’re going to be nice change of pace from the individualist, disloyal Generation X.
Then the Millennials hit the workforce like a huge wave and the Boomers were more than disappointed. They saw entitlement. They saw poor communication skills. They saw a lack of a work ethic.
And the Boomers complained and complained and complained. They wrote stories. They ranted and raved to each other and even to their employees. These Millennials are terrible! Some of them even vowed to wait the whole generation out and not hire Millennials altogether.
The Millennials have heard it all. Many Millennials feel stereotyped and even limited in their careers by Boomers who constantly complain about their the hours they work. They see seminars for Boomers on how to manage them and how they need to learn “soft skills”. The Boomer vs. Millennial fight has been a must-see for workplace entertainment.
Now the Millennials are getting their revenge.
Millennials have partnered with the newest generation in the workforce, Gen Z, to exact their revenge. What is this revenge? It comes in two words:
If you aren’t familiar with this, take a minute to Google it and read some of the articles and memes. You find a meme with a face of a Boomer saying “When I was in college, I paid my own tuition because I had a job! Of course college cost me $400.” You’ll see a picture of Abe Simpson (from the Simpsons) yelling at a cloud. The words “OK Boomer” make fun of Boomers who are out of touch, afraid of technology, or unaccepting of others.
While the OK Boomer movement is understandable (and sometimes pretty funny), it is not helpful on personal level or at a community level. Let me, a proud member of Generation X, make my case.
OK Boomer is essentially a dismissal. It's looking at someone who prefers to make a phone call rather than converse over email as someone that you don’t need to waste time on. However, this is a huge mistake. The Boomers have a lot of experience and are pretty good about creating networks of deep relationships. There is a lot to learn from this generation and ignoring this resource is just plain dumb.
As Boomers reach retirement age at a rate of 10,000 per day in the US, a trend which will continue through 2030, many of them are realizing the pure retirement is not desirable. I’ve encountered several Boomers with great experience who are looking for things to do, and I’ve seen businesses and organizations who need help fail to see their value.
Smart organizations are finding ways to embrace Boomers who are looking for their post-retirement career. They are offering flexible scheduling and hours in exchange for deep knowledge and experience. Even in the non-profit space, programs like Springfield’s Give 5 connects Boomers with volunteer opportunities in the community. This is just smart.
So be careful with how you say “OK Boomer”. The next time you see a Boomer talk to Siri in full sentences or call to schedule an appointment instead of sending an email, don’t dismiss them. Engage them! You just might learn something.