March 14, 2013

Motivate, Recognize and Reward: The Generational Approach

row of clapping handsTalking about my generation… is something that has been done to death, but a new infographic is making the rounds that focuses on the positive side of the new multi-generational workforce. It’s rare that we see something that offers real solutions to the issues that our current and future organizations face and when we do, it’s important to highlight them.

MCF Recognition’s “Appreciating A Multi-Generational Workforce” begins by stating what many of us already know, that the workforce currently contains four generations, and while it’s not news anymore, it’s still a brand new situation to many in HR and Management. By 2015, Gen Y will outnumber the Gen X and the Boomers. Traditionalists may not make the list in a few years, sitting at just 5 percent currently.

What are the strong points of each generation though? How can managers drill down into each generation’s unique character and leverage that for organizational change and excellence?

Millennials are tech-savvy

…which translates as connecting responsibility to personal goals. While Gen X might bristle at having to prove ROI or having compensation tied to specific goals, Gen Y thrives in this environment.

Key Phrase: “You made a difference today!”

Why: Consistent, constant feedback is important to Millennials, so letting them know how they are doing on a day-by-day basis is crucial. They also want to be assured that they are working toward a goal that affects the company or organization.

Gen X-ers are self-reliant

…and self-directed. So while the news might focus on work flex in the younger generations, you’ll notice that it’s Gen X that virtually demands it. Focus on providing flexible options and solid deadlines to get the most out of this sub set of workers.

Key Phrase: “We trust that you know how to handle this.”

Why: Gen X can be pessimistic and a bit cynical so show them that they’ve earned the trust that their generation values. They are comfortable with change so they don’t need to be micro-managed, preferring to roll with the punches.

Boomers sound like a manager’s dream come true

…which is because they fit the corporate definition of a great worker to a T. Team-oriented, optimistic and defined by their job, Boomers are driven by seeing their decisions in action. They need to see differences being made. Essentially? They are motivated by action.

Key Phrase: “We need your leadership on this.”

Why: Boomers are willing to contribute but need to be recognized. Promotions and recognitions in front of their peers are paramount. They are used to economic certainty and an era where being recognized by the boss meant something.

Traditionalists are dedicated

…and won’t shy away from hard work but they need respect for their experience and to know that they are working for the good of the company. Reward their perseverance and dedication.

Key Phrase: “Your knowledge and experience is respected.”

Why: For Traditionalists, their legacy matters. Nearing the end of their professional life, they want tangible items that prove their personal self-worth. Focus on their service and longevity.

When you understand the kinds of people in your workforce, you can motivate, recognize and reward accordingly.


Read more in Employee Recognition

Maren Hogan is a seasoned marketer and community builder in the HR and Recruiting industry. She leads Red Branch Media, an agency offering marketing strategy and content development. A consistent advocate of next generation marketing techniques, Hogan has built successful online communities, deployed brand strategies in both the B2B and B2C sectors, and been a prolific contributor of thought leadership in the global recruitment and talent space. Hogan speaks and writes on all career and workforce related subjects. Her clients include Fortune 500 companies and SMBs around the globe. Red Branch Media was formed in 2006 as a simple consultancy. Today, the firm is a full-service B2B Marketing Agency that serves clients in the U.K., Africa, China, Israel, Europe and North America. Primarily focused on the Human Resources and Global Workforce vendors, Red Branch Media handles clients of all shapes and sizes.
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