Boomers need training and development, too

We recently talked with a Boomer client of ours who was extremely frustrated. As he put it, “We have all these young kids coming into our workplace, and from day one they are off to a new training class. We are teaching them about leadership, communication, how to negotiate, you name it … all we do is train them.”

We were a bit confused by his frustration. Many companies we work with would kill to be able to offer the training opportunities his company has. We prodded a bit further.

“When you say that ‘all you do is train them,’ are you frustrated that they aren’t diving right in because they are away from their desks at training?”

“No!” He immediately replied. “It’s that all we do is train them…what about me?”


When you hear the words, “training and development,” who do you immediately think of?

Most people we meet think of a bright-eyed new employee who just got his first real business card. But how often do we think of the Marketing Supervisor who has been with the company for 22 years?

So many Boomers are telling us behind closed doors that they have at least a little bit of animosity as they watch new hires come in and get an orientation more grandiose than a trip to Disneyland! They can’t help but reflect on their own orientation that began at 9:03 am with a quick tour around the office to learn where the bathroom was and a visit to HR where their benefits were explained, then ended at 9:25 am at their new empty desk where they were told to get to work.

They watch these folks lament over what class to take their first week, only to struggle with the same decision six months later at their midyear review.

This is not a ‘poor-boomers’ blog about what they didn’t get years ago. This is more of a heads-up about what they may not be getting enough of today.

With 17,000 Boomers turning 50 every day, there is no denying this generation is at a point in their lives where they are doing some serious reflecting. As they deal with the shock of turning a half-century old, they can’t help but stop and look around. Are they where they want to be? Are they happy with where they are headed? Take those internal dialogues and mix them in with all the training and development going to the younger generations and it’s a recipe for some serious roadblocks at work.

For one, Boomers who see all this attention on grooming and growing younger workers might stop sharing information. After all, information has always equaled power, so if they hang on to what they know and don’t share it with others, they will be more indispensable, right? Secondly, if Boomers—the generation that always wants to keep learning and growing—feel they aren’t getting the opportunities where they are, they might think now is as good a time as any to be open to getting them somewhere else.

So ask yourself…when you hear or think about “training and development,” do you really think of Boomers? And if so, what are you doing about it?

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.