Motivating Different Generations at Workplace

MotivatingDifferent Generations at Workplace

MotivatingDifferent Generations at Workplace

Inthe world of today, there exist multi-generational people at a singleworkplace. Handling the kind of differences from these variousgenerations always prove to be difficult to the bosses, managers, andeven team leaders. Expectations from different workers in theworkplace should be guided by which kind of generation they belong.Maier(2004) explains that failureof the managers and bosses to understand the generations he/ she isdealing with sometimes always causes problem leading to poorproductivity in the workplace. It is important for the managers tounderstand the individual, characteristics and attitude of each ofits workers regarding their generational difference so that theywould understand the method of approaching each of them.

Generationsat the workplace

Overthe years, there have existed mainly three types of generations at awork place. There is the Generation X, the generation Y, and thegeneration Baby Boomers. It is incorrect to suggest that generationsremain constant. Today the number of generations at the workplace hasincreased by either one or two. Most of the researchers believe thatthere is a fifth generation at workplace cropping in. The underlyingpersonal characteristics and values of the different generations‘always lead to distinct workplace characteristics. Thesegenerational differences must be comprehended by the Managers so asto understand how to motivate, recruit and also retain workers.

Zemke,Raines, and Filipczak (2000) states that thegenerations that are commonly seen in the workplaces include thegeneration Y, generation X, Generation baby boomers, and lately thegeneration Millennial. These generations are discussed according tothe age and time of operation, and most importantly the characters atwork. Smolaand Sutton (2002) suggest that mostpeople understand the latest generation, generation millennial. Thegenerational millennial is the kind of workers born in the year of1980 and 19997. Currently, half of the employees all around the worldbelong in the generation millennial. The generation Y is composed ofthe workers that were born between the ages of 1982 to 2001. Thegeneration X is composed of the workers who were born between theages of 1960 to 1981 while the oldest of the group are generationbaby boomers, born between the ages of 1943 to 1960.

Motivatingthe first two generations

Foran HR manager to understand the ways of motivating, recruiting andretention of workers, the managers must first understand thecharacter of each generation at work. The character of thegenerations must be based on the work ethics, leadership style,interactive behavior, communication, how they appreciate thefeedback, reaction to words, the kind of the messages that motivatethem and finally how they value their work and families. There isquite a difference in the characteristics of each generation abouttheir workplace.

Themain important characteristics that should be understood by an HRmanager are a message that motivates the workers. The generation babyboomers would prefer being valued and needed. The generation X wouldprefer to be told to do a job the way they feel like and forget therules. The generation Y would appreciate being told that they wouldwork together with other bright minds while the millennial generationwould prefer to be told all the three cases. The other workcharacteristic that describe the generation that can guide onmotivation and recruitment is the kind of work. The generation babyboomers would love adventure jobs the generation X would preferdifficult and challenging jobs that are based on contracts. Thegeneration Y would prefer a job that fulfills his/her needs just likethe millennial generation. As stated earlier, there are various waysof understanding the different generations at a workplace to enable amanager to motivate them differently.

Eachother generation has different ways of being motivated. Baby Boomersare people who are highly motivated by money factor, that is, thehard cash. The baby boomers also value strong titles in theworkplace and, therefore, to realize good work ethics and highproductivity they need to be promoted to senior offices over time.The baby boomers generation due to their ages prefers to be respectedand recognized in the workplace so that they can stand out as peopleof status in the workplace. Giving the baby boomers generation titlesalways lead to high productivity because of them feeling the need fora perfect job from the workers.

Thegeneration X workers, on the other hand, is a rare kind ofgeneration. The generation X is greatly motivated by providing themwith work that fulfill their personality and about the feel of alevel of finance. This generation, Generation X, does not considermoney as a motivator but as a reward for work that has been doneperfectly. The generation also values vacations especially if itcomes from their bosses. Jurkiewicz(2000) explains that rewardingthe generation X with vacations makes them feel to have done a goodjob. It also makes them feel the urge to work more to ensurework-life balance.

Thegeneration Y just like the generation x are workers who do not valuetoo much of cash. This generation, Generation X, values working withfriends and working for a particular cause. The generation wouldrather have a tough job, but as long as he/she is working with afriend they would be happy. The generation, therefore, would mostlybe encouraged to do more work in a situation that they are joinedwith their friends. It is, therefore, important for the manager tomotivate workers in Generation X by allowing them to work with theirfriends and a job that supports a cause.

Motivatingthe generation Millennial

Downing(2006) argues that thegeneration millennial has proven to be one of the toughestgenerations to understand with regard to motivation. It is importantto realize that the generational millennial has different workforcebehaviors that would suggest on how well they can be motivated. Thegeneration being that it is mainly composed of “fresh out ofcollege” workers, they understand collaboration tools and wouldwish to be allowed to use the tools at work without restriction. Itis, therefore, important to ensure as manager to motivate the workersof this generation with space and freedom to use the collaborationtools.

Ardichvili,Page, and Wentling (2003) explain that asmuch as it is important to motivate the different generations atwork, it is equally vital that rewarding a worker that does notcompensate in the form of increased productivity would be useless. Itis, therefore, important for every manager to be able to understandand analyzes the skills of the workers. To realize increasedproductivity, workers must be motivated but with moderation. Some ofthe factors that should influence motivation include the knowledgelevel, the attitude of the worker, the life experience, the skills ofthe worker and the personal habits.

Theknowledge of the worker is important in the fact that, workers whohave more knowledge about the company, that is, the history and thecompany functionality are more probable to sell the company to peoplethey know. The knowledge of a company that leads to an advertisementof the company leads to high productivity. As much as it is importantto base motivation on generation, knowledge is as important.

Attitudeand habits of the workers always go hand in hand. The attitude of theworkers towards their job is important and should be considered whenrewarding the workers. When the workers develop a habit that ishealthy towards positive productivity of the company, they shouldalso be rewarded publicly so as to encourage such habits. Habits suchas turning up at the time of need, look for solutions rather thanperpetual complaints, empathetic and supports charities are worthrewarded.


Inconclusion, the most important way of motivating all the kinds ofgeneration, (generation baby boomers, generation X, generation Y, andthe millennial generation) is by imparting important and necessaryskills. When a worker, no matter the generation, is imparted newskills or important skill, they feel knowledgeable. With a feeling ofknowledge on some of the major roles of the company and how theproductivity process is carried out, the workers feel obliged to workmore. Most of the time the millennial generation tends to look downon the baby boomer and the X generation. It is, therefore, importantto improve the generations’ baby boomers and Generation X byimparting the important skills.


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