Due to popular demand: 4 things that Gen Z can learn from the boomers.

October 12, 2022

Gen Z is redefining the working world. The post millennials are known for insisting on a good work-life balance and their ambition to do something meaningful without letting their work completely define them – and also for having high demands in regards to their workplaces. When it comes to New Work, both boomers and millennials can learn something from Gen Z, the generation born between 1997 and 2012. Of course, that also works the other way around, meaning Gen Z can also learn something from the boomers – and not only at the office.

1. Anglicisms aren’t always the answer!

Knowing foreign languages is really important in our globalized world, but  unfortunately, Denglisch doesn’t count as a foreign language. There’s absolutely no reason why every other word has to be in English, or even worse, in Denglisch. Some German speakers ask themselves why they have to use English words like “meet” instead of their German counterparts. Last year, the English word “cringe” was selected as the German youth word of the year. For some, the presence of anglicisms is worth a good cringe itself. Get over it, Gen Z! 

 2. Update your language skills!

All kidding aside, the topic of language is, however, an example of where zoomers can learn from the boomers while going forward. Language isn’t static, it is constantly transforming itself, whether it’s the increase of anglicisms in everyday speech or the integration of gender-neutral terms into professional and personal language usage. Gender-equitable language is something that Gen Z has been immersed in from early on, while boomers were raised with the generic masculine form as the grammatical norm. It’s challenging to change the way we’re used to using a language, and that’s why it’s even more commendable when boomers actively support the use of gender-neutral terms, and boomers in management positions introduce guidelines for the use of non-biased language at the workplace.

3. Keep adapting!

Gen Z is the first generation to be born as digital natives. Not suprisingly, this generation possesses an affinity for all things digital. Post-millennials adapt to technical trends quickly and might sometimes get a good laugh when encountering a person who is a bit awkward with using a digital device like a smartphone. Yet it’s precisely digital tools which have become the standard for collaboration, especially in New Work working environments. The pandemic and the surge in remote and mobile working have fortified this trend. Many of the boomers, who grew up without internet and smartphones, had to first familiarize themselves with the new technologies this trend has delivered. But beware: one fine day, technology will even catch up with Gen Z. And let’s admit it, sometimes some of the younger colleagues have their mics on mute while they’re speaking. Or is that done on purpose?

4. Learn from one another collectively.

In 2021, The Guardian featured an article in which boomers answered Gen Z’s biggest questions – dispelling a lot of misunderstandings in the process. Boomers are well aware that some things are no longer like they once were. For the boomer’s generation, it was absolutely normal to buy a house or build one yourself on an average salary. However, due to skyrocketing prices for real estate and overall inflation, this is not possible for a large number of post-millennials. The Guardian article showed that boomers acknowledged this and that there’s not much truth to the widespread assumption that boomers consider zoomers to be lazy and spoiled. Instead, the article demonstrated that boomers have been actively drawing inspiration from Gen Z and many of the things characteristic for this generation – for starters, their attitude towards work and how they deal with emotions. All in all, there’s perhaps a sense of admiration among the boomers for this younger generation.