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Different strokes for different folks…What motivates each generation of employee?

HR Managers and company leaders have long been baffled by what drives individuals to perform and work well in teams. Different things drive people, motivate them to achieve their goals. We are all unique beings with different backgrounds, personalities, and cultures. All of us grew up in different eras. Managing a team and motivating them to sell or to align them with the objectives is a difficult task with its own challenges. Now imagine managing a team of different generations thrown into that mix.

There are about 5 different generation groups of which 4 generations are mainly part of the workforce all working together, side by side. Each generation brings their own communication methods, priorities, lifestyle, technology etc. and knowing how to motivate each generation within your team can have a tremendous impact on the growth of the business.

The 4 generations who dominate the workforce can be identified according to the specific era when they were born in:

  • Generation Z (also known as the iGen): born 1996 and after
  • Generation Y (or better known as Millennials): born 1977 to 1995
  • Generation X: born 1965 to 1980
  • Baby Boomers: born 1946 to 1964

Identifying each generation’s unique values, needs and expectations are essential for managers to motivate teams successfully so that the reward and recognition process is honored.

Generation Z’s is the future workforce and they want to be heard. They are our young people in the organization either interns or jumping into a job fresh out of High School. Bear in mind that they grew up and are still growing up in an era of blogging, YouTube, Snapchat and financial instability. Much research suggests that this generation will make the biggest impact on the way we work. They are motivated by:

  • Their love for discovering new technology.
  • They want mutual respect and equality.
  • They want to save money.
  • They want to socialize with their colleagues outside work.
  • They love the flexibility and flexible work schedules but want clear goals.
  • They need mentoring platforms where they can have instant feedback (not annual performance reviews).
  • They look for career prospects and growth opportunities.

Generation Y also called the Millennials are, although tech-savvy and conscious of how they look and their overall image, also the environmentally and socially conscious types. They are the ‘opinionators’ in the workplace. Their main influences were Facebook and Apple and are motivated by:

  • Money, money, money.
  • They love opportunities where they are allowed to be creative and constantly want interesting projects and work because they get bored easily.
  • They are very opinionated and love the fact that their voices are heard.
  • As in the case of the Generation Z’s they also are motivated by flexible working hours.
  • A beautiful, unique and different office space and work environment add to the motivator list.
  • They are also eager to learn new technology and skill sets.

Generation X employees are pretty straightforward thinkers, highly educated and love independence so much that their main motivators are:

  • Employee and lifestyle benefits like discounts, car allowance, holiday home etc.
  • They strive to have a work-life balance.
  • They want to be in a well-oiled, established and reliable corporate environment.
  • They strive for recognition or awards for achievements.
  • Opportunities to develop further professionally are high on the motivator list

Baby Boomers are our optimists and although strong team players, they mainly focus on developing themselves and their own individual success and growth. In their era things like Elvis and putting a man on the moon influenced their main motivators the following:

  • They wanted their achievements recognized.
  • They want authority and proper designation titles.
  • Workplace benefits like health insurance, holiday days and pension plans rank high on the list.
  • They are very competitive and have a strong desire to add value.
  • They want to share their knowledge.

Not all generations and definitely not all individuals respond to motivation in the same manner. The key is to analyze and develop tactics to address particular personalities, generations, characteristics, tendencies, and experiences. To learn about each individual’s background, culture and generational grouping will give you a clear indication of what works and then only you can tailor your team motivation strategy to drive them towards success.