How to Motivate a Multi-Generational Workforce

January 15, 2018

A multi-generational workforce is becoming increasingly common in the UK, but how do we make sure each generation is equally motivated when they have very different working styles and preferences? Here’s Laura’s guide on how to motivate each generation of employees.

By Laura Rigby

Each generation will have experienced very different upbringings and will likely have very different hobbies and interests. It would be naive to expect a “one size fits all” approach to work when it comes to motivation, yet why do many employers insist on this?

Here’s a short guide to help you understand what typically motivates different generations of employees:

Baby Boomers (those born between 1946 – 1964)

Baby Boomers prefer monetary rewards, although this isn’t always feasible in smaller businesses or considered fair if this doesn’t apply to everyone in the organisation. Instead, why not focus on their desire to be seen as being in a position of authority with the ability to offer vital skills and expertise to the organisation? This generation make great mentors and thrive on peer recognition and appreciate goal-oriented task achievement. Why not tie the two together? Make them feel important and a valued member of the team by give them a project or task that requires their specific skills. You could also consider enabling flexible retirement planning (of course this conversation must be started by them!) or offer special perks like parking spaces.

Generation X (those born between 1965 – 1979)

 Generation X also appreciate monetary rewards and bonuses, but less so than the Baby Boomers! This generation of employees prefer independent working and appreciate opportunities to make their own decisions, with creative freedom and flexibility with their work schedules. There is less tendency than their parents’ generation to ‘stay put’ in one organisation in the hope that loyalty will pay off as they witnessed their parents lose jobs in the economic downturn of the 1990s.

Generation Y/ Millennials (those born between 1980 and 1995)

Generation Y/ Millennials are a product of their upbringing – a so called generation of ‘Trophy Kids’ who are used to regular praise and juggling lots of activities at once! Millennials are motivated by collaboration, positive reinforcement and a strong and happy workplace culture. This generation are driven by continued professional development (CPD), regular skills training and flexibility – such as Time Off in Lieu.

Generation Z (those born 1996 onwards)

 Generation Z have been brought up in a world of gadgets and technology and as a result, find it hard to switch off from the social aspects of their life. Therefore, they tend to be more interested in social rewards, the facilitation of technology in the workplace and being informed about what’s going on in the organisation, than monetary rewards.  Generation Z is used to everything being constant, this includes feedback and communication, although be careful of the typical short attention span of this generation – regular, short, clear and concise communication is key to motivating this age of workers. Like the previous generation, Z’s appreciate training and CPD – although they have a preference to carry this out online rather than face-to-face.

It’s important to remember, these are all generalisations and everyone is different and has different working preferences. We suggest using this as your initial inspiration and then adapt it to fit individual personalities.

As always, if you’d like support with any HR related issues, just contact the team!

Leeds based HR180 is a team of superheroes in HR Outsourcing, Projects and Consultancy committed to work in partnership with organisations of all sizes to establish working policies to go above and beyond Employment Law requirements, to protect both employees and employers alike. We love to hear from you, so call us on 0113 287 8150 or hit the Rescue Me button.

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