Generational Differences in the Workforce—Keys to Motivation and Rewards

August 07, 2013
Generational Differences in the Workforce—Keys to Motivation and Rewards

Diversity in the Workplace

In today’s workforce there are four generations of workers. Why does this matter you may ask? You may be surprised how much it matters in fact. According to a World at Work Survey, up to 56% of workplaces don’t consider generational differences when implementing an employee recognition program.
While every individual is unique, there are inherent characteristics that each generation exhibits. Because of the environment factors and cultural differences experienced growing up in each of these different generations, people may have very different responses, values and beliefs. Here’s a breakdown of the generations:
1946-1964—Baby Boomers
1965-1979—Generation X
1980-2000—Millennials or Generation Y
2000-Present—Generation Z OR New Silent Generation
Understanding these differences helps in managing your employees and the atmosphere of your workplace. Taking a little bit of time to understand some of these differences can go a long way in improving your workplace in many ways. Understanding why people are the way they are is a huge advantage in any situation, and having this understanding about your employees and co-workers is invaluable.

Different motivations, different rewards

Because of the differences between each generation, you may have to find different ways to manage, encourage, reward and motivate your employees. What works for one, may not work for the other. In fact, although everybody will appreciate an encouraging word, not everyone will appreciate the same type of service award or employee recognition. Here are a few tips on motivating and rewarding each generation:
Baby Boomers : Baby Boomers are often in positions of power and authority in today’s workforce. They value hard work, loyalty, face to face communication, and responsibility. Motivators for this group are perks, praise, responsibility and challenges. Service rewards Baby Boomers would value include nostalgic items; scheduled employee recognition programs, paid time off and promotions.
Generation X : This generation is much different than the previous, in that after witnessing their parent’s burnout from overworking, or being laid off; X’ers appreciate a high work/life balance. They are very dedicated to their families, and will quickly resist work that overly infringes on it. They tend to dislike rigid schedules and have a high value of freedom. Flexibility, diversity, challenge, responsibility and creativity all motivate these individuals. Generally having a “hands off” approach works well, as long as quotas are being met. Service awards that X’ers like include: time off, technology, music, and flexible work arrangements or promotions.
Generation Y : This generation has similar traits to the Generation X. They value work/life balance and can come across as self-centered although they can be hard workers who are also loyal. Creativity, optimism, tech-savvy and results oriented, they will value employers and peers who are very engaged and responsive. Immediate feedback, praise and response as well as structure and reassurance will motivate them. Some types of service awards that Generation Y values include: technology, music, time off, public recognition and praise.

If you are looking at starting an employee recognition program or other service award initiative in your workplace, we can help! Give us a call today and discover how.
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