Motivating a Multigenerational Workforce
By Patti Fralix
are struggling with the challenges of managing a more diverse
challenges often relate to mere variation in perspective and goals as
a result of generational differences. These are further complicated
because of the age differences between managers and employees.
Businesses can’t assume that people of varying ages will understand
each other or have the same perspective and goals. In order to be
successful, managers need to understand and value the generational
differences, perspectives, and goals of others.
generation has complained about those in younger age groups.
So, the fact that there are differences in the generations is
nothing new. What is
new today is the magnitude of the differences. It is time to
understand and value this diversity so that we can benefit from it.
Today’s workplace requires that.
To fail to do this can result in failure for everyone. There
are predominately three generations co-existing in today’s
Baby Boomers – born between 1946 and 1964
Generation X –
born between 1965 and 1976
Generation Y (also referred to as Millenials or
Echo Boomers) – born between 1977 and the present
differences between the generations create many challenges in the
challenges can be negative or positive.
It is the manager’s job to make sure that these challenges
are turned into positives. Here
are some of the most common differences between the generations and
ways to make sure that each group’s talents are recognized, accepted
work attitudes: One of the most common complaints Boomers are
heard to make about Gen Xers and Gen Yers is that “they don’t have
the same work ethic!” Well,
they don’t, that is true. This
does not mean that they are not hardworking.
What it does mean is that they place a different value and
priority on work. While
many Boomers have a love/hate relationship with work, Boomers do work
to work. Work is more of
an end in and of itself. Not
so for Gen Xers and Gen Yers. They
work to be able to fulfill other, more important (to them),
priorities. Although Gen Xers and Gen Yers are motivated by different
things, both age groups need the following:
Frequent communication, including being told the
“why,” not just the “what” of projects and priorities.
To be included, and not just in what affects them
To have fun at work, with a capital “F!”
to motivate Gen Xers:
Make sure you provide the flexibility needed for
them to manage their other priorities, such as dependent children,
aging parents, and even educational endeavors.
This flexibility can be as simple as providing schedule
changes to accommodate these needs.
Understand that these are needs, not wants.
Provide many opportunities for collaboration and
teamwork. This is the
generation that “fuels their fire” through teamwork.
Provide recognition in ways that connect with what
they value the most. Some
value handwritten thank you notes for a job well done, while
others are motivated by a tangible gift, such as flowers or gift
motivate Gen Yers:
Provide Gen Yers flexibility in when and where
work is done. Gen Yers
resist what they see as rigid workday starting times.
They do not understand why coming to work fifteen to thirty
minutes late is viewed by Boomers as irresponsible behavior.
Also, if you can provide technology that allows them to
work at home one or two days a week, all the better!
Gen Yers are interested in change and challenge.
They will leave a higher paying good job for the
opportunity to experience something new.
They do not see their careers as needing to be linear, and
they are right. Remember,
these are the workers who will have at least five different
careers, not just jobs over their life span. Their tenure in a
particular job is often no more than two to three years.
Do not interpret their rebellious nature as
negative. Let them
vent, do not take it personal, and by all means, avoid “writing
them up” for such. This
is the generation that will challenge and change much of what we
need to change.
how are Boomers motivated?
Often by position, power and prestige.
Boomers are often traditionalists, and perks of the
position matter. They
want titles and authority commensurate with responsibility.
Allow Boomers to participate in associations and
conventions that keep them professionally connected to their
peers. Boomers are
motivated by working together on professional projects in
affiliation with others like them.
Compensation that is more long term, such as
profit sharing and health care benefits including long term care.
Set of Commitments/Loyalties: Boomers have always been seen as
loyal to their companies. They
feel a sense of belonging and dedication based on their history.
This is not so for the Gen Xers and Gen Yers. They are more
focused on the present and future.
They do not see a problem in going elsewhere when
another/better opportunity comes along.
This is often seen as disloyal to their current company, but
this isn’t necessarily true. They
can be very committed to their work, although not to a particular job.
They will do what is required, but not because of a sense of belonging
based on tenure or what the company has provided in the past, but
because they find meaning in the work.
They need to feel that they are making a difference in their
how can you motivate a workforce whose loyalty lies most within? The
answer to this is simple, although the solutions are not always easy
to provide. To motivate
Gen X and Gen Y, directly connect the job to their interests, and make
sure that they find meaning and fun (yes, fun!) in their work.
Providing fun in the workplace does not mean goofing off or wasting
time. Examples include:
Provide regular work group outings, such as
sports, picnics and concerts.
Be sure that the particular social outings are those that
best relate to the culture and interests of the coworkers. Make
sure these are optional; not all will be interested in these.
Celebrate successes, both work related and
individual successes. Throw
a late afternoon party at a favorite watering hole when an
important project is completed, or throw a party for no reason at
all occasionally. Be
more creative in these activities than just a monthly birthday
someone in the group has an important moment, such as school
graduation, new baby or new house, celebrate with them.
Vary the celebrations, so surprises can accentuate the fun.
Again, make these optional, so that those who do not want
or need these types of activities are not made to feel they are
not a part of the group.
How about closing the office unexpectedly an hour
or two occasionally, and sending people home to play, to have
their own fun?!
Try some of these ideas for managing different generations
differently, and you may be able to avoid the revolving door syndrome
that is very costly in advertising, recruiting, hiring, training, and
then replacing your workforce. Consider this a part of “Talent
generation requires a different set of standards to motivate them at
work. In order for a
company to be truly successful, all co-existing generations in the
workplace need to understand and value each other, even when their
perspectives and goals are vastly different.
Management plays a key role in how the different generations
will interact together.
of looking for a quick solution, spend some time getting to know the
talent with whom you work, focusing on their perspectives and goals.
Then, everyone will be in a better position to capitalize on
the strengths of the differences, minimizing the
Read other articles and learn more
[This article is available at no-cost, on a non-exclusive basis.
Contact PR/PR at 407-299-6128 for details and