The managers of our organizations secretly hope that everyone does what they are told, gets along with others, stays motivated, and produces work with little supervision. They want things to be as simple as possible to make the tasks more efficient and productive in the workplace. We are well aware that this simplistic way of thinking is unrealistic because, let's face it, no matter how much we want people to fit into our pre-determined success models, they don't.
What is significant to someone of the Traditionalist generation and that of a Millennial?
The most surprising thing to us is how much people differ from the generational trends with which they are typically associated—they all want different things. Yes, generational trends and technological advancements should drive our workplace strategies, but innovating and doing more to fully engage each individual as a unique individual should be our top priority.
Individual employees should be on our team because they have diverse passions, knowledge, and talents that our organizations desperately need. Our goal should be to identify the best characteristics that each generation, each individual brings to the table and then adapt accordingly.
How can we engage Baby Boomers and Generation X while also preparing for Generation Z's entry into the workforce?
Creating solutions based solely on our biases is a disservice to employees. Instead, we should strive to remain in service to our people by assisting them in bringing their best selves to work every day. The more we can help them learn from one another and understand the "whys" of what we do, the better we'll be able to engage them personally.
The more we can see who our employees are and how we can value them for what they bring to the workplace, the more we will be able to engage them, regardless of generation.
So, what motivates various generations?
According to research, people in the workforce from younger generations and Generation Z have distinctly different values and motivators than those from older generations and Baby Boomers.
Younger generations (Generation Y and Generation Z) were more likely to value work where they could:
Focus on achievement and success.
Stand out and be recognized for their achievements.
Find variety, and fun.
Socialize, network, and collaborate with others
When compared to older generations, those from Generation Z were also found to be more strongly motivated by opportunities to engage in meaningful work that contributes to society and helps others.
Older generations, on the other hand (Generation X and Baby Boomers), were more likely to:
Value traditional ways of working,
Respecting a sense of hierarchy
Display a preference for a professional approach to work.
What does this mean for those in positions of leadership at the workplace?
When seeking to engage and motivate employees from Generations Y and Z, leaders should consider providing these individuals with opportunities to engage in meaningful work that will challenge and stretch them, as well as opportunities to engage and collaborate with others.
Leaders should look for ways to celebrate successes and "wins" with these individuals, as well as acknowledge and recognize their contributions and achievements, as this is likely to help engage and motivate employees from younger generations.
Furthermore, these employees are likely to value factors that allow for work-life balance and flexibility. Finally, because younger generations place a higher value on certainty and predictability, they are more likely to be successful.
Have we lost the ability to assist people in engaging and interacting with one another?
No, in a workplace scenario we feel that leadership plays an important role as they can then ensure that key practices, processes, and systems are in place to help drive the desired culture and work environment, which will help the organisation achieve its key goals and performance outcomes.
To ensure that employees are engaged and motivated and that they are contributing to the organization's success, leaders must understand their employees' values, motivators, and drivers, as well as how this is likely to impact how they will respond to the current culture and work environment within the organisation.