More Than Avocado Toast:

How Millennials Will Make Retirement Better For Baby Boomers

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To listen to popular accounts, Millennials are ruining everything. Beer sales are down because of Millennials. The game of golf is described to be on its last round because of, yes, Millennials. Even the humble dinner napkin is said to have fallen victim to the Millennial preference for the more affordable and efficient paper towel.

Soon, however, the Baby Boomers may begin to reluctantly thank the Millennials, for ushering in a lifestyle that includes far more than avocado toast – a lifestyle that will help enable quality living in retirement and older age tomorrow. Here are three ways Millennial preferences may make life better for older Boomers.

Flexibility at work

Workplace flexibility is the new way to attract talent in a tight labor market. Flexibility includes the ability to work from home or a café, working only a few days a week or simply completing tasks as needed on contract. One study revealed that 77% of Millennials thought that flexibility is not just personally desirable but is key to making them more productive. Baby Boomer and Gen X employers are frequently amazed (and dismayed) by the demand of Millennials for flexibility over better compensation.

 

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Flexible work is now a demand across the generations.

The desire for flexibility is now experiencing a generational convergence in the workplace. Most Baby Boomers did not demand nor experience flexibility at work in their youth. Today, however, they are seeking flexibility as they near their retirement years. For some older workers, the flexibility to go from full-time to part-time can provide a smooth transition into a phased retirement. Other Boomers need flexibility in order to provide care for an elderly parent or loved one suffering from illness.

 

A healthy obsession with health

Millennials are hardly the first to make healthy living a priority. Recall that the Boomers made aerobics, jogging and a strange penchant for exercise leg warmers a staple of active living. However, the Millennials have greatly broadened how health determines their choices, impacting dining, food shopping, and how we define healthy living in the first place.

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Health is being redefined as more than the absence of disease but instead a wholistic approach to living well.

Fast-casual restaurant chains such as Applebee’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Hooters have attributed declining sales to changing Millennial tastes. The result is that many of these restaurants have changed their menus to include healthier options with less fat, sodium and artificial flavorings. The motive of these businesses is to appeal to shifting preferences of younger consumers, but the result of their efforts is healthier choices being available to everyone – including aging Boomers who for decades saw a meal delivered through a car window as either a treat or a daily ritual.

The organic food trend started years ago, but a Millennial generation that is even more discerning about their food choices has pushed organic and whole foods into the mainstream grocery aisle—to the benefit of everyone. Nutritious choices have gone from a specialty aisle to a consumer experience that is expected across the grocery industry, largely due to the size, power, and demands of younger consumers.

Perhaps the greatest change Millennials have brought to health is to redefine it as more than simply the absence of disease. Wellbeing has grown into a priority and consumer value. Exercise, food, environments and experiences that contribute to physical health and promote healthy behaviors, emotional wellbeing, and social connection is the evolving definition of what is healthy – perhaps causing many Baby Boomers to think more holistically about what quality of life means an older age.

24/7 connectivity

Those Millennials, they are always on their phones. There’s an app for this, there’s an app for that. Phone-based services and the Internet of Things are growing exponentially to respond to the Millennial demand for convenience and easy, hassle-free living.

While many may criticize those glued to their phones, the frictionless connected life valued by time-starved Millennials could also make life easier for those providing care to loved ones or for those impacted by changes in health that can happen with age. Ride-hailing services like Uber and Lyft, which many may associate primarily with getting home from the bar late at night, could also help people who can no longer drive or would prefer to drive less get around town more easily.

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Life & love by app is not just for kids anymore.

But there’s far more to life than simply reducing daily friction. There is also fun. Dating apps are no longer just for kids – romance and sex past age 50? Yes, there’s an app for that. Ease, convenience and fun, are not just for the young — they are ageless.

Every generation takes a turn being criticized by the generations ahead of them. However, generations rarely are the causes of change. Rather, they serve as the indicators of technological shifts, product and service innovations, and our ever-changing context of living. The lifestyle of the stereotypical Millennial may have its critics, but it is also a reflection of changing societal values, consumer choices and innovations that will shape how we all live from 0 to 100.

So raise a glass of kombucha with me, and celebrate that this life made by Millennials for Millennials might just make for better retirement living too.