How are Millennials Motivated Differently than Gen X

How are Millennials Motivated Differently than Gen X

The workplace has become more interesting than ever before right now. It’s comprised of people belonging to five different generations. This is a first of its kind in modern history. Today, people who are Traditionalists, Baby Boomers, Gen X, Millenials (Gen Y) and Gen Z co-exist in the work arena.

This poses a herculean challenge for leaders aiming to bring their teams together to attain a united goal. However, this task can be made easy by understanding how different generations wish to be motivated. But before we move on to that, let’s understand the difference between Gen X and the millenials (Gen Y).

Generation Xers are the people born between 1965 and 1980. They are the offsprings of baby boomers and currently constitute about 50 million of America’s population. This generation saw their parents devoting long hours to the workplace. A large percentage of Gen Xers learnt to manage things on their own very early in life. This was because they were either made to stay home alone after school or brought up by single parents. They witnessed their parents sacrifice their personal lives for work. As a result, they grew up with a lack of vision about work-life balance. Additionally, Gen X is also the generation that expects loyalty by employers towards their employees.

As far as Millennials are concerned, they are those who were born between 1980 and late 1990s. The children of this generation are also called “Trophy kids”, as they were awarded even for participation, unlike children from previous generations who were only awarded when they won. Millennial kids were praised generously by their elders, parents and teachers. They were expected to be all-rounders, actively involved in academics, sports, extra-curricular activities and social events.

Because of the stark difference in the characteristics of people belonging to Gen X and Gen Y, they expect to be motivated in different ways at the workplace.

Motivating Generation X

Here’s how Gen Xers expect to be motivated in office:


  • Growth Opportunities

Gen Xers appreciate when their employers lay down the goal statement, clearly. However, they also expect to be given the opportunity to inculcate new skills and receive necessary guidance to attain desired goals. They believe in working hard and playing harder.


  • Freedom of Choice

Employees belonging to Generation X have a tendency to fend for themselves. Therefore, they appreciate it when their employers give them choices to choose from. Provide them with options for challenges, task selection, formulating new processes, developing innovative products and so on. Permit them to put their brains to work and use their own creativity to solve work-related problems.


  • Guidance

Provide employees of Gen X with a strong mentorship. Do not make an attempt to micro manage them. Try to set flexible guidelines while allocating projects or tasks. Be clear in your communication regarding your expectations of the final output. Share constructive feedback regularly and suggest ways on how the work can be done more efficiently.


Motivating Millennials

The methods used to motivate millennials have to be in sync with their experiences while growing up. Therefore, you must consider the following approaches to ensure a motivated Gen Y workforce:


  • Collaboration

Millennials are good at working in teams. Try to organize them in teams or assign partners to complete an assignment with, wherever possible. This could help in enhancing their productivity.


  • Challenges

Introduce them to new challenges. Be positive in challenging their abilities and skills. Encourage personal development in this new generation. This will help in bringing out their best versions.


  • Multitasking

Employees of Generation Y consider themselves capable of handling more than a single task at a time. So give them that option of accomplishing multiple tasks at once. However, do not be overwhelming while assigning work. Millennials have it in them to prioritize between tasks and complete them within stipulated deadlines. What’s more is that this gives them a feeling of accomplishment and they feel more motivated to work than ever.


  • Technology

Equip them with the latest technology and allow them to use it to their advantage and for the profitability of business.


  • Leadership

Millennials value leadership as strength. Be interested in how they are performing and review their work on a regular basis. Make them feel like an integral part of the organization. Share feedback on how their work can improve and monitor results.


  • Communication

Remember that millennials prefer using means of technology, like social media platforms, for communication over face-to-face meetings. This is the generation that believes in saving time and adopting technology wherever possible, to simplify work.


  • Structure

Assign work in a structured manner. Provide clear guidelines and instructions while assigning a project. Give valuable input on a regular basis and set milestones for achievement of ultimate goal.


  • Recognition

Millennials are all in for positive reinforcement. Reward them with citations or positive feedback for the good work that they do.

Understanding the basic traits of Gen X and Y makes it a lot easier for employers to devise means to keep them motivated. Try it for yourself to witness the results.


Arkya Dey

Arkya executes and strategizes content marketing campaigns at PagePotato. An MBA by education and a designer by heart, he loves analyzing social media trends and likes to read/write on human behavior & managing workspaces. Apart from this, he makes Infographics and Explainer videos on his favorite subjects. He hits the gym daily & in his spare time, he helps upcoming movie makers with script writing. You can also find him on LinkedIn & Twitter.

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