Take a moment to picture your organization’s employees. Are your workers young, old or something in between? If your organization is like today’s average company, your workforce is primarily made up of three generations: 

Boom, X and Y: The Secret to Motivating Employees from Every Generation

Take a moment to picture your organization’s employees. Are your workers young, old or something in between? If your organization is like today’s average company, your workforce is primarily made up of three generations:

  • Baby Boomers (born between 1946-1964);
  • Generation X (born between 1965-1980); and
  • Generation Y or Millennials (born between 1981-2000s).

While these workers are often treated similarly, the factors that motivate, inspire and hinder their success can be very different.

To better understand the employee mindset – including generational influences – Ceridian conducted a Pulse of Talent survey in partnership with Harris/Decima. Reaching more than 1,000 employees across the country, this evaluation provides insight into how to increase engagement by customizing tactics for motivating Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y. With many organizations still using a “one size fits all” approach to employee recognition, it’s not surprising that only 57 percent of survey respondents feel valued by their employer.

“In an attempt to create an environment of equality, many managers fail to individualize their approach to motivating and coaching workers. Consequently, many workers feel under appreciated, which is extremely worrisome for HR professionals focused on increasing engagement among employees of all ages,” said Lisa Bull, director of training and development at Ceridian.

Tips for Today’s Employers

Are you effectively motivating your employees despite their generational differences? The tips below provide guidance on how to manage and inspire your workforce.

Baby Boomers

Employee.jpgNearly 40 percent of the workforce today is represented by Baby Boomers, and the economy is driving these individuals to work longer than expected. Despite this setback, Boomers are eager to make the most of their remaining time in the workforce. In the Pulse of Talent survey, nearly half of Boomers stated that their top job motivator is having work that interested them followed by having a lot autonomy on the job (39%) and being well respected (32%).

Motivation Tips: When working with Baby Boomers, ensure they feel that their opinions and input are valued. Offer them challenging work opportunities and ways to get involved that will satisfy their desire to have interesting work.

Gen X

Hire.jpgAs the “middle child” of the workforce, Gen X is often forgotten or overlooked in discussions about engagement. However, this generation brings unique perspectives and talents to the organization. Unlike Boomers, the Pulse of Talent survey found that Gen X workers (36%) are mainly motivated by making a good salary. Additionally, Gen X is significantly more likely to be motivated by good job benefits.

Motivation Tips: Gen X craves independence and clear, timely objectives. When working with those in this generation, let the workers develop their own procedures for efficiency and effectiveness. These workers are focused on outcomes, so avoid micromanaging or focusing too much on process.

Gen Y

Retentional All.jpgGen Y is the newest generation to the workforce, but this segment is expected to grow from 25% to 50% of total workers in the next two to three years. Individuals in this generation hold high ideals and value organizations that contribute to the greater good. Similar to Boomers, the main motivator for 36% of Generation Y is having interesting work. The two aspects that impact the effort they put into a job are strong relationships with colleagues (30%) and job autonomy (26%).

Motivation Tips: This generation desires ongoing feedback, so be sure to provide them constructive coaching and guidance. Since they are in search of fulfillment, managers of Gen Y employees should help connect their work to a broader, meaningful purpose. Any kind of training, particularly that pertaining to career advancement, is very valuable to this group.

Customized Management – Broad Implications

“Businesses that address generational difference in job motivation see improvements in their ability to attract new workers and retain current employees. Due to the direct impact on the bottom line, organizations that embrace this tailored management approach will distinguish themselves as leaders in the HR industry,” Bull said.