What Motivates Employees? The Answer Depends (Partly) on their Generation

Expectancy Theory
Knowledge Center


Best Practices
Dalahn Colley
Entrepreneur, United States

What Motivates Employees? The Answer Depends (Partly) on their Generation

The age of retirement has been moved to 60, 65, 70 years and beyond. Where each generation used to pass the baton; there is no baton being passed anymore.
We can now find multiple generations (up to 4!) working in the workplace together. There are many intergenerational differences, including work motivation. While every person is different, it is proven that generational similarities such as priorities, motivators, reward preferences etc. do exist.
What motivates employee generations...An organization has to address that when creating a motivational plan. There are currently four generations in the workforce / rat race :-). Generational trends and motivators have been researched and identified by experts. To address the employees as a group an effective leader will understand and convey the messages proven to motivate each generation:
The generational names are debatable but these are the names I chose to use:
1. The Matures are born prior to 1946. They believe work is an obligation, no news is good news, their employer respects their experience and professionalism. Their satisfaction is gained from a job well done.
2. The Baby Boomers are born between 1946-1964. They view work as an adventure, want to be valued and needed by their employer. They don’t appreciate criticism and work for money, title and recognition.
3. The Generation X’ers are born between 1965-1980. They view work as a contract, want to do it their way without rules. They also feel freedom is the best reward and will seek feedback as opposed to waiting.
4. The Millennia's are born between 1981-1994. They view work as a means to an end, but want meaningful work done with other bright creative people, and want everything to manifest with the push of a button.
(Source: Lesonsky R., 2011).


Scott Greenwood, United States

What Motivates Employees? What's Behind Generational Differences

The generational differences are a function of what the environment offered at the time their behavi... Sign up

David Wilson
Manager, Canada

Multiple Generations Have there Own Characteristics

I agree that every generation has its unique characteristics. However, I believe the challenge is de... Sign up

Manager, Italy

How to Arrange Employees into Motivational Groups

Generations is only one aspect to be take into account for exploring employees motivation: culture, ... Sign up

Hinda K. Sterling, Ph.D.
Consultant, United States

Motivation is Complex and is Primarily Based on Traits

Thank you for the thoughts you presented. However, even though assigning characteristics to generati... Sign up

Loek Hopstaken
Consultant, Netherlands

Generational Differences in Motivation / Communication Depend on the World Region

Communication across generations is definitely an issue, as most of us have experienced it in one wa... Sign up

Gil Vondrasek
Consultant, United States

We Are What We Were When

There was a great training film from the 1980's entitled "We are what we were when". It describes qu... Sign up

Dr Hussein Laqwer
CEO, Saudi Arabia

Culture Influences Employee Motivation More than Generation

I think the motivation for work is a cultural issue more than any other thing. Cultures that give v... Sign up

Dev Sen
Teacher, United Kingdom

Age is Just a Number

We tend to forget the idea of "retirement" is just a recent invention. In fact the people being call... Sign up

Consultant, Uganda

The Relation between Maslow's Pyramid and Motivation of Generations

Employee motivation... Interesting! My contention is that Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs scheme seems t... Sign up

Student (University), Sri Lanka

We Need a Method to Efficiently Assess Individual Employee Motivation

Motivation levels of workers differ from one to another because of their intensity, direction and pe... Sign up

Truong Thi Lan Anh, Viet Nam

Work-life Balance is the Common Motivator among Generations

I would suggest there's one thing in common among generations: work-life balance that finally brings... Sign up

jorge eixeres
Director, Spain

4 Generations for 4 Ways or Life

Imagine those 4 generations with the same instruments of knowledgement, as internet is. You can noti... Sign up

Jone Sovalawa
Student (University), Australia

Differences in What Motivates Younger and Older Employees

Motivating the younger generation remains a challenge in many work places because they can be more q... Sign up

Johnny Michael Tan
Management Consultant, Malaysia

6 Commonalities in what Motivates Employees Among Generations

6 commonalities straddle the Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y! They are: 1. All three generations want... Sign up

Danilo Mazzarol
Manager, Italy

The Age of Individuals Influences their Behavior and Motivation

For sure the individual's age makes the difference. The different generations produce different beha... Sign up

Wulf-Dieter Krueger
Teacher, Thailand

What Motivates All Generations?

What motivates all generations? Competence of and setting good examples by 'superiors'. There might... Sign up

WALTER Pascal, France

Common Motivations Among all Generations

I agree that the answer depends partly on their generation. That's a fact. But all generations also... Sign up

JoAnn Becker
Management Consultant, United States

Just Learn About the Multi-generational Workforce

I know a 98 yr young retired US Federal judge who still practices and gets called back to the bench ... Sign up

karel sovak
Professor, United States

Leaders can Motivate Multiple Generations with Empowerment

I think the best indicator of a motivated employee comes from the empowerment they are given and the... Sign up

Rebecca Kibazo-Gasque
United States

Employee Motivation Across Age Groups

@Truong Thi Lan Anh: I agree with you that work life balance and sustainability are great employee ... Sign up

Management Consultant, France

How Employers Motivated Employees over the Years...

Since last industrial era in 1900, modern companies still have considered workers like machines or r... Sign up

Maia de Lourdes Larrea, Ecuador

Motivation is Different for Different Cultures

@Dr Hussein Laqwer: I also think that this theory is not applicable for everyone, each culture will ... Sign up

Angel, Brazil

It Doesn't Matter How Old People Are, they Want Only One Thing...

A promotion, better salary, a tap on the back, etc. Isolated or combined, they mean only one thing:... Sign up

Bert Walker, USA

Dealing with Responsibility / Accountability When you Grow Older

@Gil Vondrasek: You wrote: "Does our birth date impact our willingness to accept accountability?" I... Sign up

Vance E. Woods
Student (MBA), United States

Generational Motivation

@Samuel Luzobe: Generation motivation is definitely a cultural phenomenon. It is relevant only in cu... Sign up

Daniel Newton Obaka, United States

Two Levels of Motivation: The Natural-Purpose and the Environment-Tainted Motivation

This generational analysis comes at a time when the need to redefine value added leadership has beco... Sign up

Alain Kriegel, France

What Motivates People over the Generations?

I agree that everyone is looking for a balance between work and private life. The equilibrium point ... Sign up

Carlos Torres
Business Consultant

Work Motivations of Young and Mature People

Indeed, the different generations may have other perspectives on the meaning and purpose of their wo... Sign up

Shafiul Azam
HR Consultant, Bangladesh

Employee Motivation also Varies According to Individual Personality

Indeed employee motivation varies from generation to generation to some extent. But it also varies a... Sign up

Arif ur Rehman
Professor, Pakistan

Careful with Generalizations of Generational Imbalances in Working Mindsets

@Gil Vondrasek: Another movie that comes to my mind is ‘The way we were’. Having said that we must r... Sign up

Dev Sen
Teacher, United Kingdom

Baton of Experience is Not Passed among Generations

@Carlos Torres: indeed the problem we face as more graduates and MBA students are churned out of bus... Sign up

raffaele campanella
Management Consultant, Italy

The Importance of the Boss

I have a very clear statement in my mind, after 35 years spent in industrial organizations: "The mos... Sign up

Dilip Khanal
CEO, Nepal

Common Motivation for 4 Generations

Appreciation, challenge and reward are common in all generations. The Generation X'ers and Millenia'... Sign up

Upadhyayula Narayana Das
HR Consultant, India

What Motivates Employees? Generational Determinant

Ascribing motivation as a function of generation might be too simplistic a view. One might find a v... Sign up

Martin Noonan, Australia

Motivating Younger Employees to Find Greater Depth in Understanding

Motivation is like perception. "It's not mine, its theirs" is what is most important here, irrespect... Sign up

Beddoe, United Kingdom

Age / Generations Don't Matter Much

Personally I feel these simple categories are generalising and as many others have stated do not tak... Sign up

Ellis, United Kingdom

What Motivates Employees from Various Generations

Basic needs, such as security and recognition have always been around. All that's changed is our wil... Sign up

Dr Gary Jones
Business Consultant, Australia

Interesting Comments by All

All the comments are valid some coming from an academic research base, others from experience. Some ... Sign up

Manager, South Africa

What Motivates Employees: Use what they Like Most

For the younger generation of employees the most important aspect to use to get them motivated is, t... Sign up

hendrick Sauzande
Manager, Malawi

Motivation of Generations not Valid in Poor Countries

Motivation is not a direct function of generation, particularly in most poor or under-developed coun... Sign up

Hemant Desai
Management Consultant, India

Motivation Based on Generations Alone is Suicidal

All theories give you a point of view which necessarily has to be customised for the individual bein... Sign up

de vries
Consultant, Netherlands

Attributes of Generations / Cohorts

Generation planning is important. Not only in managing. Generations share common values but more imp... Sign up

John limpus

What Motivates Employees from Various Genarations

What motivates employees is reward. This is not always monetary: - For the Mature generation, it is... Sign up


Motivations of the Various Generations

According to Maslow, motivation need not depend on the type of generation but instead on the individ... Sign up

Gafar Bamikole
Accountant, United Kingdom

Generational Traits in Employees’ Motivation

Compared to universal motivational theories, generational traits represent a more specific concept f... Sign up

Student (Other), Ghana

What Motivate an Employee does not Depend on Generation

I think flexibility in job designs and reward systems contribute greatly to employee motivation. If ... Sign up

abraham garshong, Ghana

Common Denominator to Motivate Employees from Various Generations?

@David Wilson: I am in line with your thinking. It is possible to have a common denominator of facto... Sign up

Entrepreneur, United States

Various Generations Differences and Perspectives Worthy of Study

As the parent of a 21 year old, I have to admit I find it challenging at times to step into her shoe... Sign up

hernando bernal
Professor, Colombia

Media Motivate the New Generation?

Motivation is more than perception, Alvin Toffler said family and human behavior change with the gre... Sign up

Naomi Elisabeth

The World Changes and that Impacts the Motivation of Generations

Change can be associated with this topic. I mean, the world is changing over a century, decade, or e... Sign up


More on Expectancy Theory:
Discussion Topics
How Can You Motivate Knowledge Workers?
👀What Motivates Employees? The Answer Depends (Partly) on their Generation
All 3 Elements in Expectancy Theory are Mandatory
Why People Want to Become Leaders? Motivations to Lead
Misunderstandings About Motivation
Motivation in Non-Profit Organizations
🔥How to Deal with Demotivated Employees: Learned Helplessness
Controlling the Minds of Employees
Is your Job Meaningful?
Extended Version of the Expectancy Theory (Lambright)
What Precisely is Expectancy? Definition
Motivating an Employee by Valence
Expectancy Theory versus Human Needs?
Effort Leads to Performance, But Only to a Certain Extent
Human Motivation Lies Within
What Precisely is Valence? Definition of Valence
Measuring Motivation:The PIAV Assessment
Motivation is Owned by the Individual
Motivation Should be a Two-way Process
Problems with Expectancy Theory. Disadvantages
Identify your Passion for Success
The Importance of the Goals in Motivating Workers
Special Interest Group

Do you know a lot about Expectancy Theory? Become our SIG Leader

Expectancy Theory
Knowledge Center

About 12manage | Advertising | Link to us / Cite us | Privacy | Suggestions | Terms of Service
© 2023 12manage - The Executive Fast Track. V16.1 - Last updated: 29-3-2023. All names ™ of their owners.