Leading a multi-generational workforce: 6 tips to incentivise and motivate across the divide


Most employers now have four generations of employees working at once, all with very different motivations and priorities.

Young people just out of school and those close to retirement are rarely grouped together in any other aspect of life. Yet in many organisations both groups, and everyone in between, are treated the same way and being offered the same benefits and working conditions.

The irony being that most organisations, depending on the nature of their business, recognise the importance of segmenting the target audience for their products and services, spending both time and money investigating what their different consumer demographics want.

They don’t however apply the same rationale to their workforce. In reality, a one-size-fits-all approach to employee motivation is likely to be as effective as a strategy as it would be in sales. And nobody would actually be irresponsible enough to go down that route, would they?

“I am not a number”

There is, of course, more to an individual than their age group. Values, working styles, communication preferences, priorities and attitudes to reward also vary depending on gender, location and profession, not to mention the multitude of personal circumstances that would affect how an individual views and responds to motivational strategies.

So as businesses strive to improve the diversity and accessibility of their organisations they will need to adapt to even more groups and circumstances. In any progressive, dynamic organisation this is by definition an ongoing, ever-evolving process, but gaining insight into and understanding the distinctive characteristics of the broader employee groups by generation is a good place to start.

The largest group of them all: Millennials

Our recent report on motivating millennials tackles the fact that this ever-evolving age group will make up more than half of the UK workforce within a few short years and outlines what you can do to ensure that your engagement strategy is fit for purpose.

1) Unleash the advocates

Millenials want to make things happen and see positive change happen quickly. They can be some of your most powerful advocates and champions for change in your business. Involve them in key projects, engage them in your plans and encourage them to play their part.

2) Flexibility is key

This applies to every aspect of the millennial generation’s working lives – hours, location, management, performance, opportunities. It creates an environment of trust, openness and empowerment, which in turn leads to increased performance and loyalty.

3) Show them you care

Millennials have a social conscience – they care about causes, their communities and their own quality of life. They expect their place of work to reflect and welcome those priorities in terms of their approach to health & wellbeing and their promotion of CSR activities.

4) Offer them stability

Until recently, the younger workforce was happy to up sticks every two to three years in an attempt to gain as much experience as possible. Today, their ambitions have been tempered and your younger workforce is more concerned with security than anything else.

However, don’t make the mistake of thinking that is enough - you don’t want them to stay out of fear, you want them do stay because they believe they are an asset to your business. Create a sense of belonging among your young workforce so they view their position with your organisation as a long-term professional development opportunity.

5) Give feedback

Millennials still need validation, despite being a generally very self-assured generation of workers. As a group, they are defined by their optimism and enthusiasm – respond to this by being open and positive. Our report shows clearly that millennials appreciate the one-on-one time managers spend with them to provide feedback and support, creating an atmosphere of mutual trust and autonomy.

6) Reward & recognition works

As an age group, millennials respond well to reward and recognition as a motivator in the workplace. Although salaries matter to them, cash incentives are less important, providing a great opportunity for employers to get creative with their reward & recognition strategy. Keep it fun, instant and relevant, and make it social and shareable – if it can complement their lives in and outside of the workplace, their engagement with it will be much better.

And whatever you do, don’t forget the power of a simple “thank you” – there is no substitute for it.

Andy Philpott is marketing and sales director at Edenred.

Download the full report here 

This article was supplied by Edenred.


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