Knowledge Share – Boomer to Millennial

Michelle Benjamin – CEO of Benjamin Enterprises


Baby Boomers – born between 1946 and 1964 total more than 78 million strong, and account for 26% of the total U.S. population. As Boomers age, their choices about work differ from those of their parents. Today, Boomers want to remain active longer, postposing retirement to work full or part-time or to volunteer.

Yet, 10,000 Boomers retire each day taking with them years of work experience and career knowledge.

With current staffing levels pared back as far as they can go, organizations are challenged to transfer this experience and knowledge to the next generation of workers.

Competitive pressures have increased the demand for superior performance as a means to keep or acquire customers. The organization’s challenge is to bring the team’s knowledge-base up to the required levels of excellence with the least disruptive impact on operations.

Enter the Millennials. Born between 1980 and 1995, Millennials are entering the workforce at a rapid rate, taking over from the baby boomers who are now passed 65.

The millennials are ahead in the game because they are tech savvy, with every device known to man almost becoming an extension of their bodies. They multitask – text, talk, walk, listen to music, play videos and type.

School has taught millennials to work in teams in diverse groups. They are a generation most accepting of differences. Social media has made this generation the most connected in history, with the ability to use technology to demand societal change.

Progressive and confident, they want diversity and demand challenge in their work

To share knowledge between boomer and millenial, we must recognize each group’s differences, yet acknowledge the value that each group can bring to work setting. Adults learn from doing, it’s a fact. But, we all learn differently. Some are visual learners, others may be auditory or tactile learners. Your system of knowledge sharing from boomer to millennial must relate to all types of learners.

Adult Learning Theory says that in order for adults to learn, they must be involved in a 5 step process. These steps are:

1. Show me what you do. (Visual/Tactile)

2. Write down how you do what you do. (Visual/Tactile)

3. Let me tell you what I do. (Auditory)

4. Write down how I do what I do. (Visual/Tactile)

5. Together let’s try the new way of doing the job. (Visual/Tactile)

Each learner is slightly different. Using this 5 step process will help to reach all types of learners.

Try incorporating this 5 step process with the 4 strategies listed below to maximize the knowledge share experience between boomer and millennial –

1. Honor Diversity

– Capitalize on the millennials desire to work in teams. Leverage the baby boomers ability to lead groups. Build groups with a 6 to 4 split, boomer to millennial.

2. Use technology to foster cross-functional collaboration

– Take advantage of the millenials computer abilities. Create work that allows the millennials to transfer their computer skills to the baby boomers. Free apps, like DropBox , Sandbox or Google Docs can be used to manage projects across several departments. Ask boomers to team with millennials to create an electronic version of work processes.

3. Create a Mentorship Program

– The millennial has an affinity for networking. Comfortable with teams, the millennial can co-lead teams with boomers. Human Resource consultants can be used to structure a mentorship program with commitments and milestones to measure progress and success.

4. Provide a Flexible Work Environment

– Millennials expect to have fun and make friends at work. To build strong teams, millennial and boomer can play on company sports leagues and jointly work on community events. Balance high work standards and team collaboration with fun events. Popcorn Fridays and occasional Ice Cream Sundae afternoons can keep work fun.

Our challenge is to help millennial employees to learn new skills quickly through the sharing of knowledge and positive past experiences from boomer employees. Using this system of knowledge sharing will help you to achieve your organization’s plan of succession.