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Discuss about the Motivational Issues for Multiple Generations at the Workplace.

Millennials refer to members of the workplace who were born between 1977 and 1995. These employees have a specific set of characteristics that set them apart from the rest. Millennials are focused on achievement. They do not want stability sand routine jobs. Instead, they are attracted to jobs that are fun and which challenge them to achieve more. Millennials have grown up in a time of increasing diversity, economic expansion, and technology. They are therefore more tolerant of others, and more informed than any of the generations before them. While these individuals are able to learn their skills fast, they enter the job market being highly inexperienced.  To make matters worse, they are impatient, both of themselves and the institutions they work for.

Herzberg’s theory contains two sets of factors that can be used to motivate employees at the workplace. Hygiene factors are seen as those which are the bare minimum, and which ensure that the employee is not dissatisfied with their jobs. These issues include salary, company policy on important matters affecting the employee’s welfare, fringe benefits, and job security, among others. Employees are motivated by factors that are not similar to hygiene factors. These factors include recognition, sense of achievement, responsibility, growth at the position they work at, as well as feeling that the position they work at is meaningful to them and to their organizations, and that the position will be rewarding later in their careers (Baldonado, 2013).

In motivating millennials, it is important for organizations to understand how they can apply the Two Factor theory in effectively motivating their employees. Employees are not motivated by the same set of issues. However, millennial can be assumed to all feel that that mentorship and fringe benefits, such as study expenses reimbursements, are hygiene factors. They do not see these as being important to motivating them to work or stay at their roles. Instead, they feel that the meaningfulness of their roles is more important. For millennial to be motivated, they have to be shown that their positions will lead to growth and that they will be left to do their work. Millennials do not react well to too much supervision and having people demand respect, simply because of who they are (Montana, 2008; Baldonado, 2013).

Despite the success of the Herzberg’s theory in motivating employees, the theory also has serious tasks that managers must perform to align it with their aims. For instance, they must understand that while pay is important, it is not what makes employees work harder. Rather, they will see the pay as a just reward for their services to the organization. When employees are provided with state of the art offices, this may make them feel good, but it is also not sufficient motivation. Employees are instead likely to look at the bigger picture of where they fit in the organization, and whether their activities are really beneficial to the organization (Baldonado, 2013).

Generation X

Generation X shares some similarities to millennial, especially with respect to how they view authority, and their affinity to social groups and their friends. However, they also have differences that can help set the strategy for how best they can be motivated. The age group is known to dislike authority, hate the formality of institutions, and therefore oppose the insistence that rules must be followed to the letter. Since they are well conversant with technology, they expect to be given the right technological tools to exploit. They also want time alone, so that they can achieve their aspirations independently. More than anything else, they value their freedom. They are unlikely to be inspired by public recognition, as some of their older counterparts would be, meaning that rewarding them needs to follow these criteria (Montana, 2008).

In motivating this age group, the Two Factor theory can again be applied, albeit with a different focus to the one discussed above for millennials. Generation X sees the same things as millennial in terms of hygiene factors, to a large extent. Giving them a nice place to work form, fully equipped with the latest technology will be the bare minimum. Affording them ample time off to pursue other interests, as long as they perform their jobs satisfactorily will also be seen as a factor that prevents dissatisfaction, rather than motivating the employee. This is because this generation is usually composed of young parents who are highly sensitive about spending time with their families. They will insist on a work and private life boundary so that they do not have to interrupt their family time to attend to work issues that are not necessarily emergencies. As the generation which values working smart over working hard, they are constantly looking for innovative ways of doing their jobs (Montana, 2008; Kian & Yusoff, 2012).

Motivating the Generation X, therefore, depends on how well the manager is able to understand their motivational factors, as set out by Herzberg. This generation will still be keen on fun, but not to the level that millennials may want it. While they are not as keen on benefits of the job as their counterparts in older age groups, they nevertheless do not see them as being just hygiene factors. Rather, they see them as being a rather important motivational factor. They have bigger bills to pay than millennial, and will, therefore, appreciate the monetary reward more. The more the monetary reward, the more they are motivated to be better employees and give back more.  They are not as reliant on the identity that the job gives them as older employees, and therefore managers should look at other avenues of motivating them more effectively.

Baby Boomers

Generation X can best be motivated using time as the main prank. They should be shown that with their superior performance, ability to innovate and work smart, they will have enough time that can be spent on their families and friends. They also need to be motivated by being given roles that enable them to work freely, without supervision and interference from other people - they will appreciate independence. Monetary rewards and recognition can be used, but they are not the most important tools (Kian & Yusoff, 2012; Baldonado, 2013).

Baby Boomers refer to the generation born between 1946 and 1964. Baby boomers grew up in a time of peace, but when there was a lot of social upheaval in the world. These issues shaped their outlook towards life. While they are fond of the traditional approach to life and work, they are also in many ways modern. For the baby boomers, their jobs are very important to them, they define who they are, and are seen as living to work. They are keen on recognition, and do not take criticism well. Since this generation believes in working hard, they are likely to see younger generations, who think working smart is better, as being lazy. They will be good team players, and are keen to avoid conflicts. In an attempt to ensure no conflict actually arises, baby boomers are political – savvy – being diplomatic and politically correct (Yu & Miller, 2005; Samson, 2015). Technological advancements keep moving a notch higher in basically all schools of life but in the media and communication section, it seems to be making marginalized leaps. These baby boomers were the pioneers of touch-tone phones.

Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory can be applied to find ways of motivating the baby boomers. The generation has been in employment for a long time. They are no longer looking to fulfill physiological needs such as food and shelter. They are also likely to have covered other needs in the cycle, such as safety and security needs. Since most have been long married, and have children, they will have conquered the need for belonging and love. They are not at the workplace for this, but for higher needs in the hierarchy (Herley, 2001).

When it comes to self esteem and the need for recognition, the baby boomers have yet to sufficiently fulfill this need. They are still working, when their younger generations are already making plans to retire early. Their keenness to continue on the job should, therefore, be harnessed to find the right motivational model for them. For instance, exceptional achievements should be well publicized, and the party being recognized be announced to the whole organization. They should be encouraged to train others so that they can see that they are valued, and that their effort is highly appreciated. Since their time management skills are poor, they should undergo help in this area, so that they can achieve balance in life. This will afford them the freedom that they need at this stage in their lives (Smith, 2015).

The theory should, however, be clearly thought out before it is applied as a motivational theory. For instance, the specific needs of the individual are ignored in Maslow’s hierarchy. They must, therefore, be found out and analyzed, so that the theory can then work properly. At the same time, the theory by Maslow is quite old, having been first proposed in 1943. Over time, some realities may have changed, at least among the baby boomers, who grew up in a post was world riddled with fast – paced change (Samson, 2015).

The silent generation refers to those still in the workplace and were born before the end of World War II. This generation is made up of World War II veterans, as well as those of the Korean War. The silent generations have their own set of different characteristics as well. While they may in some ways be similar to those held by baby boomers, they are quite distinct from generations X and Y. The silent generation values hard work, and will be defined by it. They do not think of work as fun, but as a serious, formal and rigid routine that should be followed. They are keen to be shown deference, due to their age and status as senior members of the organization. To them, money is important; it is their livelihood and the most important reason why they work. Their motivation strategy is therefore quite different from the others (Kaur, 2013).

In motivating the silent generation, Maslow’s hierarchy can again be applied. The individuals at this level are likely to have cleared all other levels in the hierarchy, including physiological, safety and security, belonging, and self esteem. They are only left with self actualization. This means that the silent generation may be mostly rewarded by intrinsic motivation measures, such as informing them that their experience is well valued. They should also be recognized for their contributions to the workplace, though without much fanfare. Since they believe they are well versed in the ways of the job than most, they should be permitted to set their own rules, within the framework of specific objectives. This will show them that they are indeed valued, and enable them make a contribution which will matter (Shkuro, 2011).

Unlike baby boomers, who are still not interested in flexible schedules, the silent generation is keen to find flexibility in their work schedule. They believe that with this, they can be able to devote more time to family, and finally enjoy the fruits of their labor. Therefore, efforts to motivate them should take note of this, and include time off as part of the motivation for them. Though Maslow’s hierarchy does not cover the individual motivational factors of each individual, it can be applied in this case with great results, with some adjustments to individual cases (Srinivasan, 2012).


The four generations can roughly be divided into those who were born before 1965, and those born after. For those born before, attention to authority is key. To them, work is formal, and fun should not be part of it. However, the silent generation, Generation X and Y all work better with intrinsic motivation. On the other hand, the motivation for baby boomers should be extrinsic ad much as possible.

To this point of the essay, it can now be safely deduced that different groups of people all over the globe have contrasting motivational theories. As mentioned earlier, change is the only aspects of life that is inevitable. No matter how long or how miniature the impact of change might seem to be, it will still come to pass.


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