Different motivations for different generations

Different motivations for different generations

The first time I realized I was “getting older” was at work when I was discussing one of my favorite moves, Slap Shot, with a coworker.

Slap Shot, to me, was Paul Newman’s greatest role. This was a 1977 movie where Newman was the aging coach of a terrible minor league hockey team. To revive the season, he puts a new trio on the ice, the Hanson brothers. The three are nothing more than goons who promptly beat up every member of the other team.

The team – and fans – embrace the mayhem and the season is saved. If you haven’t seen it, Newman was never funnier.

I was going to ask another, a person we’d hired out of college a few months earlier, about the movie when the coworker stopped me, essentially saying that he was too young to have seen it.

No way. But then I asked the second coworker if he knew who the Hanson brothers were. He looked up and said, “the singers?” He was referring to the boy band with the 1997 hit, “MMMbop.” Of course, this was years ago and now anyone who remembers the Hanson singers also is getting old.

It’s 2017 now and Generation Z is entering the labor market in major numbers, meaning there are four different defined generations in the workforce. Generation Z has almost never known a world that wasn’t at war on terror and many watched their family’s savings wiped out by the Great Recession. Few from this generation have parents who will retire with private pensions.

Having so many different generations poses challenges when it comes to recruiting, retaining and motivating your staff. Ajilon, a staffing service with locations in 30 states, put together a white paper on the keys to handling the diversity.

A quick look at the generations:

Boomer Boomers (1946-1964)

  • Came of age in the chaotic 1960s
  • About 27 percent have college degrees.
  • Job hoppers – Late Boomers average 11 employers from age 18 to 44.
  • Very committed to work with 60-hour work weeks the norm.

Generation X (1965-1979)

  • Value work-life balance much more than Boomers.
  • About 60 percent have some level of college education and 30 percent have degrees.
  • Gen X is online and heavily networked and are not looking to be linetime employees. They’ve lived to see companies go down and wipe out life savings with them.
  • More likely to seek performance-based incentives and flexible schedules.

Generation Y or Millennials (1980-1994)

  • Heavily influenced by the 2008 economic crash and the Great Recession.
  • Have a far deeper understanding of technology and communication and better able to adapt to rapid changes.
  • The most educated generation with 62 percent going to college at least at some point.
  • By 2030, Millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce.
  • Works best within a group dynamic where they can divide the work and share the credit.
  • This generation aggressively seeks out companies where they want to work and are inclined to be passionate about what they do.

Generation Z (1995-present)

  • Although highly educated, Gen Z doesn’t appear to value advanced education (beyond a bachelor’s degree) as much as prior generations because of high college costs.
  • Most would like to make their hobbies their jobs and are inclined to work for start ups or companies with a flat organization rather than a hierarchy.
  • Having grown up with information at their fingertips, Gen Z are self-directed researchers who thrive on multitasking.
  • The most diverse generation and much more accepting and tolerant.
  • The offer of a job isn’t the most important thing to Gen Z, they are looking for vacation time, casual dress policies, tuition reimbursement. It’s more about the perks.

Even though the generations seem to be very different, Ajilon said in many ways they seek a similar reward – recognition. Workers from every generation want to be recognized for their abilities, but they all don’t want the same type of recognition.

Get to know your employees. Do they want public or private recognition? Would they like a gift, a note or just verbal praise. All generations value custom recognition. “When you put some thought into how you say ‘thanks’ your people will value it even more.”

And make it timely. Recognition weeks or months later holds little value.

Of course, money remains the greatest motivator, but in some cases if a bonus isn’t in the budget, Gen X’ers may be more interested in a more flexible schedule. Gen Z may want tuition reimbursement to a training program. Gen Y may want paid time off so they can volunteer for something they are passionate about.

The last motivator may seem strange, but this is the sharing generation. With your younger generations, use Facebook, Twitter and other applications to get the word out to a larger audience about just how good they are.

In the end, it may all be about the likes.