Today’s multi-generational workplace poses a challenge for managers leading age-diverse teams. Generational differences in values and job expectations can be a cause of conflict hindering productivity in the workplace. Managers must recognize the generational differences so that individualized approaches can be made with motivation, recruitment, and retention.
Generational Values and Personality
Generational Workplace Characteristics
The underlying values and personal characteristics of each generation can translate into distinct workplace characteristics. Each generation has their own set of work ethics, attitudes, and communication style that need to be handled differently.
The Motivational Perks at a Workplace
Comparing personal and work values across the generations, one can deduce what motivates each generation in their work life.
- Baby Boomers: Money is an important motivational factor, along with a strong title, recognition and respect.
- Gen X: They seek a work-life balance and is motivated by a job that fulfills them personally as well as financially. For them, money is a reward for a job well done, yet it does not add value to the job. Rewarding them with a membership to a golf club or a vacation will enable them to work towards the work-life balance.
- Gen Y: Friendship is such a strong motivator for them that Gen Y workers will choose a job just to be with their friends. Mixed with their sense of ethics, they are more likely to participate in activities to support a cause. Similar to Gen X, money is an important factor, but it is not a standalone.
Differences in Recruiting between the Generations
Having one company-wide policy on recruitment and retention may become a thing of the past as each generation has its own job expectations and desires.
Gen Y Examples:
A generation Y employee response to her dream work environment: “I think it would look a lot like Google. People coming in at 11:00, dressed in shorts and flip flops simultaneously holding onto a Starbuck’s latte and their dog’s leash. There’d be a company gym, shower, restaurant and bar.”
Big companies like Deliotte has been having problems retaining and attracting young talent. “Two-thirds of the people who left Deloitte left to do something they could have done with us, but we made it difficult for them to transition”, says Stan Smith.”Creating programs at Deloitte that focuses on helping people figure out their next career move, betting that in many cases, the best place for a restless young person is simply another spot in Deloitte.”
Gen X Example:
Anne Fisher, writer at Fortune magazine, writes on how Fortune 100 companies attract and retain Gen Xers. Autodesk, a software company, defies the Silicon Valley norm of workaholism: The company gives its employees six-week sabbaticals every four years and paid time off every month to do volunteer work. According to her article, “Gen Xers love this, because they want to make a difference”.
A Generation X manager tells a Boomer he has been working too hard and should take time off to take the family on vacation. Instead of saying thanks, the Boomer replies, “I work to get ahead, to get a promotion, not for a vacation.” The next time that situation comes up, the manager might elect to give this particular employee a bonus, rather than suggest a vacation.