Not all generations want the same thing out of work – and making the assumption that they do can be an extremely costly lesson for companies! And not all individuals within a generation want the same things. But, it can be helpful to discuss generalizations about what motivates each generation and how to attract skilled employees. So what do Baby Boomers, Millennials, Generation Z-ers, and others want out of their job? Keep reading to discover what motivates them and how businesses can adjust their strategy to fit the changing workforce.
What Motivates Different Generations?
The aspects of a job that motivate typical Traditionalists and Generation Z-ers are vastly different, which can make it difficult for businesses to identify just what these different age groups want out of their work. Purdue University Global has an excellent break down of their different wants and needs, however:
Traditionalists, born between 1925 and 1945, were shaped by the Great Depression, radio, movies, and World War II and are seen as dependable and loyal. Currently, they only make up 2% of the workforce, which makes it unlikely you have any in your workplace at the moment – though it is possible!
If they are working for you, however, they tend to be motivated by:
- Providing long-term value to the company
Baby Boomers still make up a large amount of the workforce (25%) but they are retiring in record numbers at the moment, causing a skills gap and a generational gap in the workplace. In fact, about 10,000 are retiring every day! Optimistic, but competitive, they were shaped by the Vietnam War, Watergate, and the Civil Rights Movement.
In their positions, they’re looking for:
- Company loyalty
Even though they’re often referred to as the Forgotten Generation, it doesn’t mean organizations should overlook the needs and wants of Generation X. By 2028, they will actually outnumber Baby Boomers in the workforce, and a majority of startups were actually founded by this generation. Flexible and independent, they are in a unique position to have experienced the world both pre and post internet.
When it comes to motivation, they tend to be motivated by:
- Personal-professional interests
- Work-life balance
Millennials, at the moment, make up about 35% of the workforce. Like Baby Boomers, they are competitive, but they’re also achievement oriented and have different goals post-high school and secondary school. Millennials also tend to not be loyal to any one company, switching jobs every 18 to 24 months if they find the company no longer suits their needs.
Millennials are motivated by:
- Unique work experiences
- The quality of their manager
Generation Z is still entering the workforce at the moment, with the youngest of this generation being born just 3 years ago in 2020 (the oldest were born in 2001). They expect their employer to provide formal training, but they also value independence and prefer to work with Millennial managers.
With access to technology from a young age, Generation Z-ers are motivated by:
How Can Your Organization Meet the Changing Needs and Wants of Your Workforce?
It’s very clear – the 5 different generations in the workforce today want very different things, which leaves organizations scrambling to answer the question, “How can we improve the employee experience and improve retention?” After all, hiring and training new employees is vastly more expensive than implementing a solid employee retention strategy.
Companies, going forward, need to have a plan to meet the changing needs and wants of the different generations. If they don’t, they could very well fall into the skills gap trap that is causing other issues such as lost revenue, lack of growth, lost experiential knowledge, and more.
Here are just some ways employers can meet the needs of the different generations:
- Employers should work to provide satisfying work, opportunities for the employee to contribute, and emphasize stability.
- Baby Boomers
- Employers should try to provide specific deadlines for projects, outline goals, offer them mentor roles, and provide feedback in a coaching-style.
- Generation X
- Employers should aim to provide immediate feedback and offer flexible work arrangements with work-life balance in mind. It’s also a good idea to offer opportunities for personal development.
- For millennials, employers need to get to know the worker personally and be flexible on schedule and work assignments. Immediate feedback is also welcome, and they prefer to be managed by results.
- Generation Z
- For Generation Z, they need the chance to work on multiple projects at the same time, work-life balance, and independence.
Understanding what the different generations want from their workplace is essential to combating the ongoing and growing skills gap in a number of industries. Our white paper, “Next Generation Leadership White Paper” talks about the skills gap, how your organization can be affected, and how knowing the different generations’ wants, needs, and ideas about the workplace can help you retain more of your top tier employees.
Daryl Brister, former principal of SheaCCS, since the publication of this whitepaper started his own company: Competency Consultancy Solutions. However, the information, data, and findings are valid and worth a read!
If you are currently working on publishing a white paper or have aspirations of developing one this year, contact us for an estimate! We have decades of experience in turning highly technical information into easy to read and easy to follow content.