Question: Are you engaged at work? While this may seem like an easy one to answer, a common response often received is, "... Sometimes..."
Now, more than ever, the workplace is flooded with people from four different generations who each have a very diverse idea of what it means to be engaged in the office. The oldest generation, known as Traditionalists (among many other names) desires recognition, hierarchy and a humble attitude in the office. Meanwhile, the youngest generation, Gen Y or Millennials, wants fun, flexibility, advanced technology and positive reinforcement.
Moral of the story: Managers cannot ignore the gap between these generations and hope that everyone gets motivated on their own. These generations are completely dissimilar in their wants and needs from an employer, and it's important to recognize these differences in order to create a collaborative and engaging workplace.
Traditionalists & Boomers
For Traditionalists and Boomers, the phrase, "Your job is incentive enough," was the motto of the workforce. The boss handed an employee the job and it was their responsibility to keep themselves motivated and engaged.
These generations thrive off of a hard day's work and trust in the security of their job and retirement fund. But after the economy took a turn for the worse, these, and all other generations, are expecting to work longer and are rebuilding skills to fit into the technological demands of today's fast-paced workplace.
In 2012, there were nearly 50 million Generation X'ers in the workplace. These tech savvy and plugged-in employees desire a work-life balance, autonomy and flexibility. They have watched their parents live the American Dream, and while they still have ambitions of their own, they are looking for a workplace that respects them as a person as well as their abilities.
Also known as Millennials, this generation is looking for feedback, advanced technology, fun, innovativeness and creativity within the workplace. While they have received plenty of flak for potentially being lazy and self-entitled, this generation, by 2020, will make up nearly half of the world's employees. They don't see company loyalty as apriority anymore; if they don't like their job, they will go elsewhere.
Employee engagement is no longer a one-size-fits-all method; there are too many generations in the workplace to pursue a blanket philosophy. Therefore, employee engagement needs to be driven by individualized incentives based on each employee's needs and passions. Yes, it requires extra time, effort and resources. But the loyalty and talent that you'll keep will make it worthwhile.