8 Common Baby Boomer Characteristics in the Workplace
Updated March 16, 2023
Person sitting in a home office reads and types on a laptop while listening to a broadcast via earphones and a phone.
The baby boomer generation has participated in the workforce for over 50 years. People in this demographic share many characteristics that guide the way in which they approach their work. If you're a baby boomer, learning more about their common traits may help you in your job search.
In this article, we define the baby boomer generation, including how this generation compares to others in the workplace, list their common characteristics and provide jobs that align with baby boomer work habits.
Baby boomers comprise a generation of people born between 1946 and 1964 and have several character traits that define their overall character.
People in this generation often value workplace visibility, pride themselves in their work and are typically competitive.
Many baby boomers want to continue working, even though they have the opportunity to retire.
What is the baby boomer generation?
The baby boomer generation refers to the demographic of people born directly following World War II. This return of soldiers, paired with economic prosperity in the late 1940s and '50s, led to a steep increase in births. The result is the generation known as baby boomers, or those born between 1946 and 1964.
8 baby boomer characteristics in the workplace
With the impact that baby boomers have had on the economy, it's important to identify specific characteristics when defining their workplace habits. Here are a few baby boomer generation characteristics:
1. Avoiding retirement
The first baby boomers turned 65 in 2011, meaning the majority of this generation has reached retirement age. However, just because these employees are reaching retirement age doesn't mean they're retiring. Many baby boomers choose to continue working past the age of 65, even though they can retire.
Baby boomers might continue to work after retirement age, but they often aim to change how, when and where they work. Some baby boomers are leaving the companies they worked for in favor of a part-time position, volunteer work or creative pursuits. For example, they might leave a large accounting firm to manage the books at a small nonprofit or offer their expertise to a political organization.
2. Valuing workplace visibility
The baby boomer generation may be less likely to embrace remote work or work-from-home options than younger people. For baby boomers, visibility is important. The people in this generation typically want their manager to see them arriving on time every day and working hard until the workday ends. This isn't always possible in a remote environment.
Therefore, a workplace tailored toward younger people can sometimes isolate older generations. Baby boomers may have higher morale when they're able to meet and work regularly with their managers. While they're independent, baby boomers typically like authority figures to see and acknowledge them. Similarly, this generation cares greatly about professional appearance. They may not immediately adhere to a casual dress code, simply because they've dressed more formally for much of their careers.
The parents of the baby boomer generation stressed that they needed to work hard to attain their desires, making them incredibly self-sufficient, which is ideal for many workplaces.
While collaboration may be an element of workforces today, some older-generation employees may prefer working independently, staying focused on a task and continuing until the job concludes. Additionally, some baby boomers may have trouble asking for help if they have a problem, as they often believe in solving problems independently. Therefore, they may require a manager asking if there are any issues rather than the other way around.
4. Effective decision-making skills
The hard work and focus of the baby boomer generation result in many boomers valuing objective and rational decision-making. The right decision for them is rarely the easy one, but clear and objective planning can help them make their choices effectively. Baby boomers provide a workplace with some of the stoicism of the silent generation, where they replace emotions with rational decision-making.
5. Equating authority with experience
For many baby boomers, authority stems from experience. Because of this, some baby boomers may be more likely to trust someone who's older and has been in the field for several years, as opposed to someone younger and newer.
The belief that older and more experienced individuals are automatically respected authority figures is often antithetical to a modern workplace. The rise of digital communication and advancements in education have resulted in many experts being younger. Younger generations are proficient with technology, while baby boomers have had to adapt to it.
Since the baby boom triggered a steep rise in the population, this generation experienced competition for jobs when they reached working age. Many of these people have transferred their competitive nature into their careers. Baby boomers often aim to work as long as it takes to reach their goals and try to differentiate themselves by attaining the promotion, raise or acknowledgment they want.
This generation has experienced the benefits of hard work and dedication, which is something they expect from their employer. Baby boomers are willing to work hard and compete to reach company goals to prove that they're the best people for the job they hold.
7. Attaining self-worth from their jobs
Baby boomers often heavily focus on their families and hobbies, but they also consider their jobs to be a significant defining characteristic of their identity. Baby boomers take pride in the companies they work for, the positions they hold and the duration with which they stayed at a company. A large component of their identity relies on how companies value their work.
8. Optimism and realism
Baby boomers often possess ideals that coincide with the American Dream, which states that anyone can achieve their goals with hard work. Many baby boomers still believe this to an extent, but they've also become realists. In the workplace, this translates into a belief that hard work and determination results in goal achievement.
Baby boomers vs. other generations
Here's how baby boomers compare to other generations:
The silent generation/traditionalists
Here are some characteristics of the silent generation, also called traditionalists:
Born before 1946
Regularly seek comfort and financial security and are also traditional and loyal
Here are some characteristics of the baby boomer generation:
Born between 1946 and 1964
Strong work ethic, disciplined and focused
Here are some facts about Generation X:
Born between 1965 and 1980
Typically resourceful, independent and value work-life balance
Here are some facts about Generation Y, also called millennials:
Born between 1981 and 1994
Often confident, tech-savvy and value work-life balance
Here are some facts and tendencies of Generation Z:
Born between 1994 and 2012
Collaborative, pragmatic and flexible
4 common baby boomer jobs
A few common jobs that may interest baby boomers include the following four roles. For the most up-to-date salary information from Indeed, visit indeed.com/salaries.
National average salary: $52,991 per year
Primary duties: An installation technician provides services related to equipment or computers. They install commercial or residential equipment, troubleshoot issues and assist customers with questions. Many installation technicians perform hands-on work, making this an ideal job for baby boomers.
National average salary: $63,871 per year
Primary duties: Consultants use extensive industry knowledge to advise companies. They work with businesses to form short- and long-term strategies, coach executives, solve company-wide problems and assist in hierarchical reorganization. Consultants can work on a part-time or contractual basis, making this an attractive option for baby boomers who want to reduce their hours.
Read more: Learn About Being a Consultant
National average salary: $104,131 per year
Primary duties: An architect combines the skills of a mathematician and an artist to design new structures. Architects can work as independent contractors or work within a firm. Architects typically need at least a bachelor's degree, and many spend a few years working as an apprentice before working on their own. Baby boomers who have worked in similar roles or fields may be able to find contractual work as an architect.
Read more: Learn About Being an Architect
National average salary: $105,110 per year
Primary duties: Real estate agents assist in the buying or selling of property. They work with clients to list their homes or property on the market, negotiate buying prices and help clients complete contractual paperwork. Real estate agents need to complete a training course and pass a state exam to work. It's a straightforward process, meaning baby boomers can pursue a real estate agent position after leaving long-term careers.
Read more: Learn About Being a Real Estate Agent
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