4 Ways Millennials and Baby Boomers Make the Dream Team They may be from two different generations, but millennials and baby boomers can learn a lot from each other.

By Rick Villalpando

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.


Baby boomers are entering their encore careers at the same time millennials are breaking into theirs, and both generations are looking for work that is meaningful. Millennials are now the largest generation in the Canadian workforce. And Statistics Canada reports that the number of seniors staying in the workforce was 25.5 percent in 2013, jumping from 15.5 percent in 2003.

Since more boomers are working beyond retirement age these days, they are becoming coworkers with millennials. At RAMMP Hospitality Brands Inc., more than 50 percent of our employees are millennials. With 13 percent of baby boomers in our office, we've learned what's often overlooked is a synergy between the two generations that can make for a win-win partnership.

Related: 7 Ways to Bridge the Boomer-Millennial Gap

Keep it real.

Forty percent of American baby boomers stayed at their job for 20 years or more. In contrast, two in three millennials are planning to leave their jobs by 2020. If they don't feel a connection to the work that they're doing, millennials won't hesitate to make a move.

Millennials are a generation motivated by authenticity and purpose. They want to know that they're making a difference beyond the walls of their cubicles. Don't wait until you've found your newest employee to share your company's values. Conveying your office culture can start as early as the interview process. At MR MIKES SteakhouseCasual, we get innovative and give candidates a real-world project to complete and present at the interview. The enthusiasm and creativity they put into the project can reveal if they're a natural fit for your team.

Transparency is a good way to ensure any partnership is off to a good start. Open up the interview to include a tour of the office. You can even challenge them to a game of ping pong or fruit ninja. Not only will you see how nimble their reflexes are, your potential employee will see that a successful day in the office is more than slaving away at their desk. They'll see how creativity is also sparked by slaying virtual oranges and ping pong balls.

Be a mentor, not a manager.

Millennials are getting established later in life. Be it millennials in their early 20s who are just getting started or those in their 30's who are reaching a new career plateau, Gen Y is encountering many of the same challenges that boomers have already worked through in their career journey.

Related: 5 Ways for Boomer Managers to Motivate Millennial Workers

Whether it's dealing with a difficult employee or navigating client expectations around a challenging project, millennials are hungry for guidance. They're looking for a mentor who will challenge their thinking and support them with suggestions. As for the boomers, they've successfully clocked 30 plus years of experience and have numerous lessons worthy of sharing.

As a mentor, boomers are more than managers, they're in a position where they can offer relevant peer to peer feedback. Millennials don't want to wait for their next bi-annual review to find out that a presentation they delivered six months ago could have been executed differently. They're looking for the same coaching relationship within a working environment that they were used to growing up -- and they won't hesitate to ask for it.

Digital natives vs. digital immigrants.

Enter the millennials, who activate Siri to type a text or Snapchat their way through their day, documenting stories from their breakfast right up to dinner and their workouts in between.

Baby boomers like Steve Jobs and Bill Gates may have invented the technology, which millennials don't recall a time they had to live without; but many baby boomers in the twilight of their careers are digital immigrants when it comes to technology. This can prove to be a challenge as communication -- be it sales, operations or marketing -- is increasingly online rather than offline.

Related: Are Millennials too Reliant on Technology to Fund Their Future?

Millennials are a raw resource for baby boomers when it comes to staying relevant in the digital space. Whether it's filming a behind-the-scenes video of a team brainstorm, hosting a Twitter chat, monitoring Reddit threads or using Canva to layout a profile of your staff spotlight, leverage Gen Y's digital smarts to ensure your business stays current.

Flexibility beyond the 9-5.

Many boomers would still prefer to pick up the phone to get in touch. Millennials, on the other hand, are texting more and talking less. This difference in communication styles also translates to approaches to work.

As boomers value face-to-face contact, many may find it hard to adjust to the concept of working from home. Yet, millennials' ideal workday isn't always a 9-5. They're checking their emails on their phone after hours, or staying connected on social media to engage with clients. Being flexible requires a level of trust that goes both ways.

Flexibility at RAMMP means that if a business trip is planned and one of our employees wants to tag on an extra day to visit with family and friends, but commits to working remotely, then it's a solution we encourage. Millennials should be able to get the job done without abusing the trust of their boomer boss. Both generations should have enough room and space to get the job done in a way that can fit around their respective lifestyles.

Rick Villalpando

VP of Business Development for RAMMP Hospitality Brands, Inc.

Rick Villalpando is known in the restaurant franchise business as the “Franchise Whisperer. As vice president of business development for RAMMP Hospitality Brands Inc., the franchisor behind MR MIKES SteakhouseCasual, Rick has franchised more than 50 percent of MR MIKES restaurants to millennial entrepreneurs in the last four years. In his 30 year career, he has sold more than 300 restaurants and has catalyzed success for some of Canada’s biggest casual dining brands -- Quiznos, Boston Pizza and East Side Marios. 

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