In today’s world, people are working later in life than ever before. This is the first time in history that we have had five different generations in the workforce at the same time. From a management perspective, this can present a challenge. A Millennial is wildly different from a Baby Boomer, and the management style that works for one may not be right for the other.
A great first step to take in managing the generational gap in the workforce is looking at what motivates each group.1
Gen Z (1997-Present) is less motivated by money than the generations before them. They put a high value on mentorship, and need to understand how their work impacts the company’s performance. Recognition and positive experiences motivate this generation. If you're going to offer a member of Gen Z a bonus for a job well done, a trip to Hawaii will motivate them more than a check.
Millennials (1981-1996) were born into the technological world. They are fast thinking multi-taskers who crave immediate feedback on everything they do. Millennials are always connected to friends, family, and co-workers through their technology. If you want to motivate a Millennial, make sure that you communicate clearly, and model the behavior you wish to see from them. Take any opportunity you can to offer praise and encouragement because Millennials thrive in a positive environment.
Gen Xers (1965-1980) are highly educated and value independence. They are not afraid to speak their minds and value honest comments on their performance. A great way to motivate a Gen Xer is to give them the autonomy to complete a project their way and reward them when it meets or exceeds your expectations.
Baby Boomers (1946-1967) have seen the technological word explode throughout their lives. They value a healthy balance between in-person interactions and electronic communication, so don’t forget to engage in face time with these workers. Baby Boomers are goal orientated and want recognition for their accomplishments. Next time you sit down with a Baby Boomer, acknowledge a recent achievement of theirs and tell them you value their contributions to the company.
Traditionalists (1928-1945) still make up 1% to 3% of the workforce today. They have a vast amount of experience and place a high value on hard work, money, and respect. A Traditionalist is going to be much easier to talk to in person than over email or phone. When you are managing a Traditionalist make sure you ask for their input, value their experience, and acknowledge their hard work.
All workers, no matter what generation they are in, are motivated on some level by the pay and benefits they receive. Are you offering your employees the best benefits that you can? Click here to see the employee benefits resources we offer.
1What Motivates Your Workers? It Depends on Their Generation. Society for Human Resources Management. https://www.shrm.org/resourcesandtools/hr-topics/behavioral-competencies/global-and-cultural-effectiveness/pages/what-motivates-your-workers-it-depends-on-their-generation.aspx