Rigid, closed-minded, overbearing -- just some of the words sometimes used to describe Post50s in the workplace.
Entitled, lazy, self-absorbed -- equally harsh words used to describe some young employees.
It's no surprise. Generational conflicts have always been present in the office. Put a group of strangers together from differing generations, ask them to work side-by-side for eight or more hours each day, and you're bound to have some tension. But experts say baby boomers and Generation Y, in particular, have clashing values and views of the world.
According to a 2011 poll by the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), as reported by The Fiscal Times.
Forty-seven percent of younger workers complained that older managers were resistant to change and had a tendency to micromanage. About 33 percent of older respondents griped that younger workers informality, need for supervision, and lack of respect for authority were problematic.
Those age 65 and older now exceed 35 million in the United States. They represent the heart of today's management. At the same time, though, a recent survey found that about 20 percent of midlevel corporate employees now report to a boss who is younger than they are, CNNMoney reports.
As Baby Boomers delay retirement and work until older ages, it is more likely they will have a younger boss.
So how do boomers cope when workplace conflict heats up? The Huffington Post asked that question to author and human resource management consultant Dr. Linda Gravett, whose area of expertise is leveraging workplace diversity.
"Many boomers are not coping well. I've had so many boomers say to me, I'm not going to learn how to text, I want to talk to someone face-to-face doggone it and I'm going to track them down till I find them face-to-face," she said. "I say, have to learn that if you want to communicate with people across all age groups then learn how to text, learn how to instant message, get out of your comfort zone and your rigidity that every kind of communication must be either by letter or email or even face to face because that isn't necessarily practical."
Here are Gravett's eight tips for boomers to bridge the generation gap at work:
"I hear almost everyday that boomers are faced with the stereotype that they don't know technology and are afraid of technology, which is sometimes true. However, there are just as many boomers that are very comfortable with technology of all types and don't feel that this should be a myth that's out there."
"Another challenge in the workplace is personal, yet it has to do with the workplace, and that is that they have parents who are old enough that many of them have healthcare issues are being placed in nursing homes. A lot of colleagues that I have that are in their 50s and 60s are put in this dilemma. They're trying to concentrate on work. They're at a place in their career where they're very high level, very busy, and yet, they still have to take care of one or more parents."
"In terms of work ethic, the Gen Xers, after the boomers, and then the Yers after them, are all very interested in work-life balance, in telecommuting, in having flexible hours. And the boomers grew up thinking, well you have to have face time, you have to be at the office, you have to be in meetings face-to-face. They're thinking that the younger generations have no work ethic. The younger generations are thinking the boomers are too rigid in the style and approach that they have in the workplace."
"Another issue that I'm seeing is that many baby boomers do like to have the face-to-face communication if at all possible, meetings preferably, and the Yers and Xers are more apt to want to use instant messaging, texting, Webinars and Skype, that kind of thing. Using technology to communicate instead of face-to-face communication is causing some huge issues in the workplace."
"The older boomers are often interested in making lateral moves or even taking a step back now. Maybe they have ended their career in one arena and they want to stay in the workplace because they're in their early 60s, for instance. Yet, the difficulty is finding an organization that doesn't deem them to be over-qualified and doesn't worry if they don't get the same level of salary that they're earning that they will leave. Actually, a lot of boomers are really ready to have a different stress level so they can travel, perhaps, or spend time with their grandchildren. So I think there's that perception out there are boomers aren't willing to take a step back because of their career and many boomers are interested in re-careering and not necessary for the same salary level."
"When Gen Y-ers are looking for coaches and mentors they're really resonating with the radio babies. The boomers are mentoring younger boomers because that's such a wide age span. The difference between a 65- and 47-year-old is pretty vast. So a lot of the older boomers are finding that the younger boomers are interested in coaching with one caviat - the younger boomers are saying, 'I don't want another parent. Don't tell me what to do. Don't hover over me. Don't tell me there's only one way to get ahead. Just give me some ideas and I'll run with them.' That's something the older boomers need to watch out for." Many boomer women who have not had a mentor over the years are saying that's coming back to haunt them because they realize that they worked harder, not smarter. They took directions and courses that I didn't really need to follow and my path would have been far, far easier had I taken the time to reach out to a mentor or if someone had done that for me."
"Stay current with not only computer technology, but also with what's going on in your industry. So the best advice I give to men and women who are both in their 50s and 60s is to stay current, stay active, and hang out with people as much as you can who are in their 20s and 30s."
"40 percent of the people that I work with say that they're getting burnt out and would like to take their career in a different direction. Only 10 percent of them over the last 10 years have actually taken the steps and done something proactively to re-career. Of the 10 percent who actually take that leap of faith, every one has said to me, 'I'm happy I did this. Why did I wait so long? Now I'm passionate again about getting up every morning and putting my feet out over the bed and going to work. And I have renewed energy and feel younger.'"
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story cited Business Insider as the source for information on the 2011 Society for Human Resource Management Poll. The reporting was actually done by David Koeppel of The Fiscal Times.