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Millennials & Baby Boomers. Can We Talk (about Retirement)?

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By Joe Casey

There’s a lot of ongoing chatter about Millennials & Baby Boomers. A Knowledge@Wharton article last week posed the question Can Baby Boomers Succeed in a Millennial World?

It noted that next year Millennials will become a larger share of the US population than the Boomers. It also pointed out that in today’s workplace there are many unhealthy stereotypes about each generation. Another recent article noted that there is “Millennial fatigue” and highlighted that the cohort is more diverse than is often thought. I’m skeptical about sweeping characterizations about generational cohorts. My education tells me that there are common experiences and influences shared by a generation, but there’s also a great deal of heterogeneity.

So, who are the Millennials exactly? It’s often thrown around as an all encompassing term for anyone younger. Millennials were born between 1981 and 1999, so they are now between 19 and 37. The Baby Boomers were born between and 1946 and 1964, so we are currently between 56 and 72.

With five generations in the workplace today, each generation brings a different perspective and mindset. Older Baby Boomers grew up in a world where there were clear rules and the paths were defined. It was a world with pensions and a “traditional” retirement date. On our podcast – The Retirement Conversation  – Jim Frawley, a Leadership and Retirement Coach who works with both Boomers and Millennials, says that Millennials come to the issue of retirement with the recognition that there are No Rules. It can create a sense of empowerment and freedom, but it also means that there are no pathways. You have to build your own roadmap, create your own milestones and keep yourself on-track.

It appears that both generations are essentially after many of the same things, but think about the timing differently. According to Frawley, many Millennials want independence and they’re unwilling to put off living until retirement. Having the time and flexibility to live an integrated life to the fullest – sooner rather than later – is paramount.

It turns out both generations can learn specific and valuable lessons on retirement from each other.  If you’re a Baby Boomer or a Millennial – or a parent or child of one – you’ll find something of interest. You can listen to our conversation with Jim here

 

 

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