What Motivates the Different Generations

What Motivates the Different Generations?

Today’s workforce encompasses multi-generational personalities and as an employer, you have to identify these generations to motivate them. One of the most difficult approaches to take is motivating employees differently; some employees may prefer money while others might prefer respect. Motivating different employees in the same way; can be very dangerous which can result in the demotivation of some employees. This article will explore ways you can motivate employees of different generations for an efficient workforce.


Identification of Different Generations

The first thing to do is to identify different generations and the generations that make up a workforce are:

  1. Baby Boomers: They are born from 1946-1964, and they are expected to drop from the workforce by 2015-2020. Nearly 70% of them will retire from the workforce.
  1. Generation X: Those born in 1965-1975, are in their 40s or 50s, and they are expected to retire from the workforce by 21% in 2015-2020.
  1. Millennials: They are born from 1977 to 1997 and 45% of them are expected to drop from the workforce in 2015-2020.
  1. Generation Z: They are born from 1998-2010; they are expected to increase from 1 percent to 7% in 2015 – 2020.


Understanding their Characteristics and How to Motivate Them Distinctively

As a manager or supervisor, you need to ascertain the characteristics of each generation to motivate them as expected. The following are their characteristics and how to motivate them:


Baby Boomers

Baby Boomers love recognition and competition in the workplace. They love to be recognized by their supervisors rather than their peers. Employees should saddle this generation with the responsibility of mentoring younger employees. Non-monetary rewards like flexible retirement are also highly valued by this generation. The following motivates Baby Boomers:

Authority Position: This generation loves to be part of the decision-making process of an organization and including them in such will go a long way to motivate them. Issue them a promotion and saddle them with a higher authority to motivate them.

Recognition: Acknowledge all their achievements, input, skills, and job titles. Recognize them among their peers to motivate them. Job titles and accomplishments are the parameters to measure success in this group.

Workplace Benefits: Offer those flexible working options, retirement funding, and vacations.


Generation X

This generation is now in their 4os and 50s, and they will take up leadership roles from the Baby Boomers.  They make up a large portion of the intellectual and skillful workforce. They sometimes get frustrated because they remain staff for a long time until the Baby Boomer retires. Motivating them is highly crucial to keep them ready and willing. The following motivates Gen X:

Professional Development and Opportunities: Invest in a learning leadership program to offer mentorship to enhance Gen X’s expertise. This will help them boost their professional career and make them feel that they are important to the company.

Work-Life Balance: Gen X cherishes a healthy work-life balance to spend some time off with their friends and family. They will be highly motivated if you give them some time off to spend with their loved ones.

Public Recognition: Their preferred style of recognition is public recognition in front of smaller teams. This makes them feel incredibly special.



They love to be praised continually for their performance at work because they have been enjoying praise from their parents and teachers. A healthy work-life balance is what they crave for and a promotion at work can take them off track. They grow up having positive energy all around them. As a result of the fact that they are a younger generation, they have a high preference for electronic communication and as a manager, you need to take note of that when praising them. You can send them a message, email, or call them to praise their accomplishments. The following motivates a Millennial:

Opportunities to learn new technologies: Introduce new technologies at work and organize professional training for millennials to learn how to use technology and communication tools.

Opportunities to Showcase Creativity and Opinions: Give room for millennials to express their views and showcase their skills in a work environment. You can allow them to implement their ideas by having a team leader of their own; always praise them when they express their creativity in a workplace.

Dynamic and Fast Tasks: Give Millennial a task that is very fast to handle and keep on changing their task over time to allow them to express their versatility. Saddling a millennial with the same task over and over will hamper their motivation.


Gen Z

Gen Z does not make up a large portion of the workforce, and supervisors need to understand how to motivate them. They have been highly exposed to social media and they love to integrate technology tools into their work environment. Social interaction, personal interaction, and regular updates are what this generation loves. Review their performance regularly and not annually. The following motivates a Gen Z:

Mentoring Platforms: They are known to seek out mentors actively to have stable career growth; managers should train them both formally and informally to motivate them. Organize online training and certification for them. Constant feedback from their supervisors or managers means a lot to them than money.

Experience Days: They crave to have a meaningful experience in a workplace, so they want exciting projects that they can be passionate about.  Experiential rewards and badges will go a long way to motivate them.

Money-Saving Schemes: Gen Z is a generation that is just coming on board, and it will motivate them if a manager or supervisor counsels them about their money spending habits. In addition, give them tips on how to save money wisely. They need direction and guidance from the Baby Boomers.



Finally, all the generations have some common motivations they cherish which are the feedback and work-life balance. If you know how to value employees as a manager it will lead to employee retention and productivity. As a manager, you need to understand that motivating an employee is beyond financial incentives and each generation of employees has a unique way they love to be motivated. Motivation is the key to employee efficacy in an organization. Follow the tips accentuated above to motivate diverse generations of employees.

Employer Articles

Leave a Reply