30 Aug


Interviewee: Mark Foster

Title: Director HR, Preferred Pump & Equipment

Education: BA, Human Resources at Michigan State University

Born: 16th Dec, 1952 (Baby Boomer)

Family: Married with two children


Interviewer: Vijay Thakkar

Title: HR Manager, CODe, UT Arlington

Education: MSHRM, MBA

Born: 12th Feb, 1985 (Gen Y)

Family: Never Married

Characteristics of Baby Boomer workers


  • Individual choice
  • Community involvement
  • Prosperity
  • Ownership
  • Self-actualizing
  • Health and wellness


  • Adaptive
  • Goal-oriented
  • Focus on individual choices and freedom
  • Adaptive to a diverse workplace
  • Positive attitude

Work styles

  • Confidence in tasks
  • Emphasize team-building
  • Seek collaborative, group decision making
  • Avoid conflict

Characteristics of Generation Y workers


  • Self-expression is more important than self-control
  • Marketing and branding self is important
  • Violence is an acceptable means of communication
  • Fear living poorly—this is related to lifestyle enjoyment, not wealth
  • Respect must be earned; it is not freely granted based on age, authority or title


  • Adapt rapidly
  • Crave change and challenge
  • Create constantly
  • Exceptionally resilient
  • Committed and loyal when dedicated to an idea, cause or product
  • Accept others of diverse backgrounds easily and openly
  • Global in perspective

Work style

  • Want to know how what they do fits into the big picture and need to understand how everything fits together—want to effect change and make an impact
  • View their work as an expression of themselves; not as a definition of themselves
  • Exceptional multi-taskers—need more than one activity happening at a time
  • Seek active versus passive involvement
  • Less likely to seek managerial or team leadership positions that would compromise life outside of work
  • Seek flexibility in work hours and dress code
  • Seek a relaxed work environment—bright colors, open seating, personal touches
  • Expect corporate social responsibility and will not work for, or purchase products from, organizations that are not socially responsible
  • Seek work in teams
  • Seek continuing learning and will take advantage of training made available to them
  • Want everything instantly—everything now
  • Effort can be separated from reward—there is no such thing as pay for performance
  • Feeling of entitlement
  • Seek to balance lifestyle and work, with more focus on lifestyle

Infographic detail: every day social use by 50+ boomers, seniors


Differences, Similarities and Challenges:

  • Communication preference for me is email, SMS and phone calls compared to Mark who prefers face to face communication. Though he is not very social compared to my generation, according to him he prefers face to face interaction even though it is time-consuming as online media lacks personal touch and feel. When contacting other baby boomers he usually sends long emails explaining everything in detail but most of the time he simply avoids that and gives them a call to explain. But when sending emails to Gen X or Gen Y, he usually sends shorter emails.  In case he needs to reach his work force which comprises of Gen X and Gen Y, he uses Facebook and Twitter to pass the message. Newer generations are more comfortable with social media since they grew up in that era. Mr. Mark uses Facebook mainly for seeing pictures of his grand children’s and when he wants to connect with his baby boomer colleagues he personally meets them or gives them a call.
  • Mark has low preference for work-life balance compared to my priority list which has work-life balance on the top. Being valued and needed is more important to Mark compared to Gen Y who are job hoppers and opportunistic. Gen Y prefer challenges and working with creative people.
  • What I realized from interview is that baby boomers are good team players compared to my generation. Baby Boomers are very cautious in decision making compared to Gen Y who is always ready to take risk.
  • Baby Boomers work for personal fulfillment, are workaholics, has desire for authority and quality of work compared to me (Gen Y) as am more goal oriented, prefer multi-tasking and entrepreneurial activities.
  • Mr. Mark is very conservative when it comes to spending money and prefers to spend money only on necessities compared to me, even though I am conservative but not as much as compared to Baby Boomers as I do not mind spending on certain social activities.
  • Mr. Mark is not as comfortable with Twitter and Facebook as he feels that it is an intrusion in to one’s private life. Though he maintains a decent LinkedIn profile. He appreciates the role of social media and networking but avoids it’s too much use. On the other hand his grandson cannot wake up or sleep without checking his Facebook account. And with the courtesy of i-phone he is never offline.

Using Social Media to engage audiences

Baby Boomers

  • Personally meet or call them to communicate
  • If you chose to email, that be comprehensive
  • A mix of print and electronic media
  • Use social media to connect but do not bombard with too many posts, messages and events
  • Understand that they are slow decision makers and prefer working in teams
  • Appreciate their hard work and give them authority
  • Respect privacy

Gen Y’s

  • Use Facebook and Twitter to communicate and connect
  • Write shorter emails
  • Make use of videos to engage
  • Electronic, visual media—videos, televisions ads, CD- or Web site-based Flash demonstrations or streaming video, html e-mail
  • Include opportunities to register online for Web-based seminars or order free information or self-help kits
  • In-person, lecture-oriented workshops and opportunities that allow for practice and role playing—particularly for enhancing relationship skills both at work and at home
  • Make sure they have work-life balance
  • Give opportunities for multi-tasking and entrepreneurial activities.


2 Responses to “Multi-Generation”

  1. Sonia September 4, 2012 at 11:02 pm #

    For some reason, companies assume that when you pay your dues and you know the business, you can be a manager. They’re wrong. The truth is that seniority does not make a good manager. People skills make a good manager. By the time Gen Y is running the world, we will be smart enough to promote people to managers because they can manage, not because they’ve worked for ten years. For managers, personal work must come a distant second to developing employees both personally and professionally. If you can’t help others, you don’t deserve a promotion to manager and you will be left behind.

    • psyclife September 6, 2012 at 11:02 am #

      From my personal experience working with UT Arlington’s Sustainability Department and the campaigns we run to involve Baby Boomers to participate in various events and programs that we conduct, we personally send them emails and invitations by post. We also send our volunteers to meet and greet them and personally invite them to participate. Most emails are supported by video links and pictures. Another thing that I have noticed that baby boomers needs to know details of the event well in advance – approx. 3-4 weeks prior to event, compared to Gen X, Gen Y who turn-up at event even at last minute invitation and are not offended by the same. Also, we have made an attempt to create an online registration form which simple to understand and complete, so that baby boomers do not have to worry about complexities involved. Baby Boomers also love to give feedback and suggestions, so we conduct frequent surveys and discussion sessions wherein these people are invited and important issues are discussed. On the other had there has been poor response of Gen X and Y in such sessions. They do enter in to discussions but its more of quick and easy way to do things but one thing I appreciate is that newer generations are very creative but lack patience.

      Our department uses Facebook and Twitter to reach to Gen X and Gen Y faculty, staff and students. Online media is also supported by print media i.e. Shorthorn. We create FB events, have booths on-campus on certain days, have information sessions, give away flyers, etc to involve newer generations. We are in the process of creating mobile and i-pad application for Gen X and Gen Y and this may take few months before it is implemented.

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