11 effortless ways to engage and train Millennials, Generation X and Baby Boomers

First things first. Let’s clear up exactly what age Millennials, Gen X and Baby Boomers are and when they were born. According to the Pew Research Centre, Millenials were born between 1981 and 1996 and are 22-37 years old. Generation X were born between 1965 and 1980 and are 38-53 years old. Baby Boomers, on the other hand, were born between 1947 and 1964 and are 54-72 years old.

Below, we’ll tell you exactly why their work ethics are so different and what you can do to engage and train them in the best way possible.


These are all about flexibility, freedom and open-mindedness. They want to be heard and they want to make a difference to the company; the idea of being just a cog in the machine really bothers them. They grew up around a lot of new technology and are always looking for the next best thing, which can mean they are more innovative. They are used to having everything they need at their fingertips, so they are very focused on getting the job done as quickly and efficiently as possible. If they need to know a new piece of information, they will Google it and skim read what they want to know, rather than ploughing through lots of articles.

How to engage them at work

  • The key to training and engaging Millennials is to remember to keep everything brief and to the point, as they are so used to having what they need at their fingertips. Make it easy for them to find information; ideally, the resources you provide for them should be digital and mobile. You can get employee apps, which make it easy for millennials to find what they are looking for, a bit like Google for your business. These give your staff freedom and flexibility to learn when they want.
  • Microlearning allows you to quickly and easily train your millennial employees whilst keeping their attention and not making them lose interest. They can carry out a quick 5-minute learning module when they have time.
  • Make sure you always recognise and reward them to avoid them feeling like just a number. There are plenty of reward and recognition platforms, such as Oplift, that allow you to praise your employees when they do a good job.

Generation X

This generation were bought up when divorce rates rose in the 1970s and are frequently called latch key kids. This is because they were left to look after themselves as both parents would be working. Because of this, they are self-managing and independent. They adapt well to new technologies or processes and are tolerant of alternative ways of doing things. They enjoy a good work-life balance and appreciate fun in the workplace.

How to engage Generation X at work

  • The key thing to remember with generation X is to give them a lot of autonomy and never micromanage them.
  • They care about company culture and fun in the workplace, so remember this in your internal comms. Adopt a casual tone, sprinkling a few jokes throughout your news or article posts. Try to organise regular socials, and why not try gamification as a method to get them learning.
  • Make sure you offer them good perks such as flexi-time, which is perfect as most of them are raising a family, or discount vouchers to popular attractions to show that you value their work-life balance.

Baby Boomers

They are very traditional and hard-working with a strong commitment to their workplace. They love challenging projects and aren’t afraid of confrontation. Baby Boomers came from a time where they were expected to work hard on whatever the company needed, and they would be rewarded for their loyalty and time spent at the company. They are more set in their ways and more resistant to change. They prefer face to face communication and like teamwork.

How to engage Baby Boomers at work

  • Make sure to have regular face-to-face catch ups with Baby Boomers and always speak to them rather than messaging or emailing them when you can.
  • Ask for their opinion and advice on things as this shows that you value their experience. Otherwise, they can be left feeling out of the loop and unappreciated when they have so much knowledge to share.
  • Go easy on the feedback as they prefer the old saying of ‘no news, is good news.’
  • Adopt a more formal tone in your internal comms and avoid the jokes. Baby Boomers prefer a more professional approach at work.
  • They are very literal and matter of fact so they would benefit better from traditional learning methods such as reading or task-based learning. They are likely to dislike gamification as they won’t understand the point of it and would view it as too fluffy.

If you remember each of the generations individual working styles, you’ll be able to engage and retain your employees better than you could before. Ultimately, you’ll be able to provide them with the best employee experience.


Other posts that may be of interest to you: 

How to make employees feel recognised in a large organisation

What you should do if ‘comfort’ is killing your digital transition

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How to build a strong culture during a merger & acquisition

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Written by Hayley Lloyd

Published 26th March 2019