Gen X vs Gen Y Employee Motivation and Productivity

Increase employee motivation.carrie wynn big ideas blogGuest post by Carrie Wynne

According to Sylvia Ann Hewlett’s research, published in the Harvard Business Review, Google does a pretty fantastic job in showing through their workplace design and through the work teams they assemble as well as the value they place on flexibility and how they value an eco-friendly, healing-the-planet environment. They tap into the altruism and need for flexibility, and even a little bit of on-site odyssey, in terms of how they design the daily work environment. And I think that’s been very effective in producing a highly engaged workforce, especially with the amount of Generation Y employees they have. Let’s take a look at employee motivation and productivity through the lens of generations.

Who are you managing?

Gen Y Motivation and Productivity

They are called the “Trophy’s kids” the generation where everyone gets a trophy regardless of whether they win or not.  Also known as the millennials, they are seen as confident, curious, entrepreneurial, goal-oriented and tech-savvy.  They excel at diversity.   Gen Y is less likely than older generations to hold a sense of cultural superiority according to Tamara Erickson who wrote this in Plugged In, The Generation Y Guide to Thriving. 40% of Gen Y compared to 70% of ages 50 – 64 said yes when answering this question:   “Our people aren’t perfect but our culture is superior.”

They thrive in an environment of high demand and high expectations and are willing to go the extra mile.  Stereotypes associated with Gen Y include the preference to work smarter, not harder and the desire for immediate feedback and rewards.  Reward them with positive feedback and praise.  The Results-Only Work Environment (ROWE) lines up nicely with these young people who want independence along with structure.  Jody Thompson, Co-Founder of CultureRX says the problem isn’t too much freedom, but rather poorly defined goals.

They also have a greater sense of social responsibility then previous generations.  In a survey conducted in this study of Gen Y, 86% say it’s important that their work make a positive impact on the world.   One example of a company doing this is Whole Food Markets which created Whole Kids Foundation. They support corporate social initiatives by grants made to create salad bars in schools across the country. These efforts are aimed at helping to include more fruits and vegetables in the diets of youngsters

Gen X Motivation and Productivity

A Gen X employee favors self-reliance, individual projects and minimal supervision.  Gen X has workplace flexibility up there as a primary motivator.  They have an entrepreneurial spirit, are ambitious and hardworking while still valuing work/life balance.  They prefer to complete tasks quickly to free up more personal time.

Gen X is about building relationships, selling face-to-face and having phone conversations.  They will use technology but won’t replace it for meaningful interactions and building trust and rapport with clients.  Online meetings, conference calls and work from home policies work very well to retain top talent Generation X employees.

Colgate-Palmolive tops Indeed’s list of the 25 best big companies for work-life balance.  Past and present employees comment on the Colgate-Palmolive employer review page noting that management sets realistic expectations for employees, promotes time management skills and clearly communicates.  Colgate-Palmolive offers some great benefits, such as flexible work hours, telecommute options, and nearby back-up childcare centers, which is a nice perk for work-at-home parents.

Who are you marketing?

Selling To Gen Y

Generation Y is the largest consumer and employee group in history.   Gen Y have no brand loyalty are credit dependant and respond to electronic marketing.   Gen Y customers know what they want and will do their own research first.  They come from a wired world and lightning fast advances in communication.   Gen Y doesn’t like to waste time in meetings.   InterCall’s infographic, What’s Traffic Jam Worth explores productivity during inopportune times. 

Selling To Gen X

Gen X are brand switchers, credit savvy and respond to target marketing.  Good customer service and value are high on their priority list.   Don’t expect your client to learn online tools.  In fact, you’ll annoy them if you do.  Gen X customers expect you to do it for them.  They will give you the business and stay loyal, but expect you to earn it.

When searching for the right employees to generate revenue, the answers to know along with salary expectation and long term goals are what leadership style they prefer, what tools they use to stay connected and what type of workplace environment appeals to them.  The workforce has dramatically shifted over the last few years as Generation Y eagerly advances up the professional ranks.

Operational changes and work environments are being redefined as Baby Boomers are refusing to retire and Generation X, half its size, is squeezed in between these two giants.  Understanding the primary motivators of each will help you hire the right combination of strong sales and marketing employees.

Carrie Wynne is the author of 10 Ways to be Deliriously Happy – How to Live an Inspired Life.  She conducts personal development workshops based on the principles in her book showing others how to connect to the power within themselves and develop mental strategies to create an incredible life.  As a professional sales consultant she also offers training, coaching, and sales seminars.  Connect with Carrie on Google+, Twitter and LinkedIn.

  • Telework Recruiting

    Great brief breakdown of these two “cultures”. (And I love the term, “Trophy Kids”!)

  • terredean

    Wow that was a great analysis. Studying employees is surely a tough job, and managing employees them is quite important.