Baby Boomers vs. Millennials: How to Handle a Multigenerational Call Center
You’re probably tired of the whole generational debate by this point—I know I am. Baby Boomers are viewed as the older and wiser generation that’s less technologically savvy. Millennials are on the opposite end of the spectrum; most are just entering the workforce and, although they are innovative and techy, many view them as entitled. And then you have Generation X, which is kind of like the middle child in this scenario that everyone seems to forget about. Gen X has plenty of its own strengths and weaknesses, but members of this group tend to clash less with Baby Boomers and Millennials since they’re solidly in the middle of both generations.
The debate over which generation is best will likely go on forever, which makes it even more important for call center management to know how to handle a multigenerational workforce. If you take a minute to look around the call center floor, you’ll likely see people of all ages sitting by their phones. So how is a manager supposed to keep everyone happy? Here are a few ideas.
Create training programs that cater to all learning styles. With one generation growing up with no technology, and another that’s been typing since they could spell, there’s quite a learning gap in most call centers. Baby Boomers still, for the most part, have a hard time with tech; Gen X grew up without tech but learned it as they got older; and Millennials were introduced to tech at a young age. For this reason, training needs to be unique to each group. Baby Boomers, for instance, might need a little more help when it comes to being taught computer programs, while Millennials might benefit from role playing more customer calls.
Utilize their differences. Chances are that Baby Boomers and Gen Xers have better social skills than Millennials because they didn’t grow up in front of a computer. So why not have sessions where older generations role play with younger agents so that they can practice their customer service skills? The opposite could also work, with Millennials helping Baby Boomers learn new software.
Offer flexibility. Millennials tend to have pretty high standards when it comes to benefits, time off, and work from home policies. This stems from the belief that we should “work to live” and not “live to work.” Call centers would likely benefit from having more flexible scheduling in place, and I doubt anyone, even older agents, would protest to that.
Edited by Maurice Nagle