In this edition of Generational Viewpoints, we'll explore the perspectives of two team members, born nearly 45 years apart, on the similarities between their generations. We asked Baby Boomer managing member Glenn Mikell, CPA, born in 1947, and Millennial staff accountant Becky Allen, born in 1991, from Buffalo Grove, Ill.-based Weltman Bernfield LLC, to answer the following question:

"In your opinion, how do the Baby Boomer and Millennial generations approach work similarly?"

 

MIKELL'S BABY BOOMER VIEWPOINT

Baby Boomers and Millennials approach work in a similar fashion in four significant ways. First, both have quickly absorbed technology and are completely reliant on it. Second, both are skeptical and struggle to adapt to change. Third, neither generation trusts one another as much as they should. And fourth, both define themselves by the difference they make at work.

Technology has become the lifeline for our business and has created a new sense of urgency for employees at all levels. Where it once was acceptable to receive a phone call and return the message at your convenience, an e-mail is now expected to be returned within hours of being received. Technology advancements can create a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week expectation. Work-life balance is a high priority for both generations, too, so the pressure of constantly connecting with clients and internal team members is something both generations struggle with. Baby Boomers don't necessarily always "get" all of the new apps and technology used by Millennials, but we do have an appreciation for the efficiency and accessibility they can bring.

Baby Boomers resist change to almost everything that they are comfortable with. Millennials seem to resist changing their mindset about how it "should be" to learn "how it is" and why. When they are now put in a position to change at work, they are challenged because it is something they have not had to do on their own.

Both are also skeptical of trusting one another. Millennials believe there is no loyalty on the employer's end. After the last major recession, many of them witnessed their Boomer parents lose their jobs after being employed for many years, and they carried that lack of trust into their adult lives. Consequently, Boomers question the loyalty of Millennials based on their longevity at any given company. Both generations take pride in their work, and Millennials and Boomers both define themselves by the value they add to their organization.

 

ALLEN'S MILLENNIAL VIEWPOINT

As a Millennial in the beginning stages of my career, I have noticed everyone is quick to point out the many differences in work habits between the Baby Boomer and Millennial generations. However, I've come to realize that there are also many similarities between the two.

Baby Boomers and Millennials both approach work with an emphasis on efficiency and getting work done as quickly and accurately as possible. They realize that the more efficient they are, the more they can accomplish while adding value to their firms. While the methods used to achieve efficiency may differ, the main goal is still the same.

Baby Boomers and Millennials also tend to be entrepreneurial and self-starters. Many Baby Boomers were instrumental in growing their practices to where they are now. Millennials are similar in their desire to grow their practices and their clients' businesses and driving new business or service lines. They question why something is done the way it is and want to learn by doing.

With every new project and task, both generations know the primary focus needs to be on what's best for the client. Baby Boomers and Millennials view how much value they're adding for clients and their firm as a reflection of their success.

Finally, Baby Boomers and Millennials both know the importance of keeping an open mind. Baby Boomers and Millennials recognize that the only way to succeed is to be constantly learning. It is important for both generations to be knowledgeable and up to date on current topics by investing in training, reading profession-related publications, and attending conferences and networking events so they can better serve their clients. Even though they are years apart in age, Baby Boomers and Millennials share several preferences in working style and values and would do well to find ways to collaborate more often. Millennials can learn a lot from their Baby Boomer counterparts -- and vice versa!

This column is facilitated and edited by Brianna Marth, the Millennial sales and marketing coordinator, and Jennifer Wilson, the Baby Boomer co-founder and partner, of ConvergenceCoaching LLC, a leadership and marketing coaching and training and development firm that specializes in helping leaders achieve success. To have your firm's generational viewpoints considered for a future Accounting Tomorrow column, e-mail them at brianna@convergencecoaching.com.

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