Setting a precedent in American history, members of up to four generations work together today in companies throughout the nation. Young adults in their 20s, for instance, are employed with people not only in their 30s, 40s and 50s, but also in their 60s and 70s. Members of each group—the Veterans, Baby Boomers, Generation X and Millennnials—bring to their jobs different perspectives, work styles, experience levels and more, resulting in a personnel potpourri that’s challenging to manage.

A surefire way, however, to boost morale and productivity among them is to capitalize on two major commonalities they all share: they want to be engaged and also to be recognized, according to the AARP report, “Leading a Multigenerational Workforce.” People of all ages consider work as a place where they can feel fulfilled, not just earn an income.

Generation Years Born Estimated Participation in Workplace in 2011
WWI/Veterans/Matures 1945 and earlier 5% or 7 million
Baby Boom 1946 to 1964 38% or 60 million
Generation X 1965 to 1980 32% or 51 million
Millennials (Gen Y) 1980 to 2000 25% or 40 million

Source: AARP’s “Leading a Multigenerational Workforce”

Engaging Your Team

Employees who are engaged—willing and able to contribute to company success—produce excellent products and services, leading their firms to outperform others with less engaged workers, according to Gallup, a management and consulting firm headquartered in Washington, D.C. Also, disengaged staff members cost their employers money—more than an estimated $300 billion in lost productivity alone, within the U.S.

To engage all the generations in your office:

● Provide regular educational and training opportunities and career advice

● Establish a mentoring program that involves all ages

● Foster employee involvement

● Ask them to generate creative ideas

● Let them participate in decision making on various issues

Knowing what motivates your employees helps keep them engaged. For each generation, it varies a bit.

The Veterans are motivated when leaders connect their actions to benefitting the entire company. Meaningful messages to them are: “Your experience is respected here.” “It’s valuable to the rest of us to hear what has and hasn’t worked in the past.” “Your perseverance is valued and will be rewarded.”

Baby Boomers are motivated when managers show them how to make a difference and get them involved. Resonating messages include: “Your opinion is valued.” “You can work as long as you want to.” “Your contribution will be recognized.” “We need you.”

Gen Xers are motivated when higher-ups let them accomplish their duties on their own schedule. They appreciate hearing messages like: “Do it your way.”  “We have the newest hardware and software.”  “There aren’t a lot of rules around here.”

Millennnials are motivated when their bosses link their actions to their per­sonal and career goals. Favorable messages include: “You will be working with other bright, creative people.” “You and your co-workers can help turn this company around.” “You can be a hero here.”

Rewarding Your Staff

Employees of all generations need to be told, and told again, that their managers respect and appreciate them and their work, and that they’re essential to the company’s success. “They enjoy celebrating milestones and victories, publicly and privately, verbally and in writing, promptly and sincerely,” according to Dale Carnegie’s “Managing Across Generations.” The more workers are recognized for jobs superbly done, the more they feel the work they do matters more to management than their age, per Spherion Staffing Solutions, a Florida-based recruiting and staffing service.

To recognize your team members, the professional services firm Towers Watson recommends you:

● Develop a standard system that acknowledges and praises excellent work

● Include everyone, of all ages, in that program

● Reward them often

● Encourage them to suggest ideas and new ways of doing things

● Communicate openly with them

● Trust their judgment

When it comes to rewards, again the generations differ, per AARP:

The Veterans appreciate symbols of commitment and service, like plaques and certificates.

Baby Boomers enjoy personal appreciation, recognition and promotion.

Gen Xers like time off, upgraded resources, development opportuni­ties and certifications for their resumés.

Millennials value certificates, awards and tangible proof of credibility.

Engaging your employees and recognizing their contributions will go a long way toward achieving a harmonious, productive environment, one in which they enjoy working.


The information provided is presented for general informational purposes only and does not constitute tax, legal or business advice. Any views expressed in this article may not necessarily be those of Nevada State Bank, a division of ZB, N.A.