Multi-Generational Motivation – What Could Go Wrong?

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Business people of varying ages meeting around a table in the workplace.

Everyone has a personal need to feel appreciated and valued.  Sometimes figuring out what employees need to have them feel appreciated, valued and therefore motivated, isn’t easy.  The workforce today is made up of people who potentially come from five different generations.  To make things complicated, each generation has distinctly different:

  • Life influences,
  • Work ethics,
  • Values and ideals,
  • Definitions of success,
  • Goals and desires, ­and
  • Behaviours and motivators

To be effective at motivating a multi-generational workforce, a flexible leadership approach is required to accommodate many different needs. To gain greater insight into what motivates each generation it’s important to have an understanding about the events that have shaped the attitudes and needs of individuals.

This cohort was born between 1928-1945 and are choosing to work past the age of retirement. They value respect, hold traditional/conservative values and beliefs, are hardworking, loyal and challenged by technology.  To engage and motivate these employees, they require face-to-face interaction, flexible work schedules, involvement as a team player and appreciate traditional recognition and rewards.

Baby Boomers
Born between 1946 – 1964 the sheer number of this cohort have had a defining social impact.  They are generally seen to be work-centric, independent, competitive, goal oriented and value the desire to make a difference. To engage and motivate these employees, consider providing high-levels of responsibility, perks, praise and exciting and challenging projects.

Generation X
“Gen-Xers” were born between 1965 and the early 1980s.  Unlike the generation before them, they are loyal to their career rather than the organization.  They value having mentors and a work/life balance, are individualistic, flexible and technologically adept.  To engage and motivate these employees, consider flexible work schedules/hours, challenging assignments and managing them through goal setting.

Millennials (Generation Y)
Like Gen-Xers, Millennials are loyal to their career, not the organization and value immediate feedback and praise.  Born in the mid-1980s to 2001 they are tech savvy, family centric, achievement oriented, like working as a team and have a reputation for being attention-craving.  To engage and motivate these employees, use technology tools, provide structure and stability as well as a team-oriented environment.  Flexible work schedules/hours are also appreciated by Millennials.

Generation Z
 Sometimes referred to as “iGen” or “Post-Millennial”, this cohort was born between 1998 and 2012.  This generation has been raised with the internet, smart phones and an economy that has had its up and downs. They have a pre-occupation with brand loyalty, online grocery shopping and liking of social media influencers.  They are tech savvy, social, good at multi-tasking, are entrepreneurial, as well as Global in their thinking, interactions and relatability. They value feeling appreciated and seek constant feedback.  To engage and motivate this cohort, use flexible work schedules/hours, providing meaningful work, structure and stability, face-to-face interactions and an independent work environment.

Beware of Stereotypes!
Although it’s good to have an idea of the events that have shaped the attitudes and needs of each generation, it is advisable not to stereotype individuals based on their generation.  There are always exceptions!

If you would like a review of your current marketing communication plan for some ideas on how to motivate a multi-generational workforce, we can help!  Give us a call or send us an email.  We are happy to share a coffee with you to discuss your needs and answer your questions. 

Picture of Kathy Majkut

Kathy Majkut

Content Development, Copywriting