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What Keeps Us Truly Motivated in a Job?

Future of Work

What Keeps Us Truly Motivated in a Job?

October 02, 2015 Kyle Bolster

Whatever you call them, Millennials, Generation Y, or Echo Boomers (children of baby boomers), the newest workforce entering the market has a lot of divergent views to those who entered the workforce prior to the millennium. 

According to the Pew Research Center, an American “think tank” the Millennials are “confident, self-expressive, liberal, upbeat and open to change.” They are also, “more ethnically and racially diverse, less religious, less likely to have served in the military and on track to becoming the most educated generation in American history.”

Perhaps this is due to their timing as the “Children of the Internet” and because they have come of age in a time when the world has literally been at their fingertips. They are digital natives, and they are products of a shifting geo-political world, made apparent to them by the Internet.  They are the most adaptable and potentially the most productive generation to come into the workforce, given the right environment and the autonomy to innovate. They are probably also the highest maintenance and they take proper understanding and management to maximise their potential.

On the other end of the spectrum are the Baby Boomers. Guess what?  Many of these “grey workers” are still in the workforce, in roles that require expertise and leadership, whether or not they want to be.  The NZ Herald quoted figures of the number of workers aged 65 and over has soared from 23,900 in 1990 to 127,500 in mid-2014. In other words, individuals aged 65 and over now represent 5.5 per cent of the workforce compared with just 1.6 per cent 24 years ago. At this end of the spectrum, workers are strongly focused on family and friends, genuine and meaningful displays of values and staying healthy and alive.

Then in the middle you have the “Generation X” who are starting to turn 50 this year.  Due to their demographics and experience, these are our potential leaders, although many of them are in the unenviable “sandwich positions”, personally.  In many cases, this generation is physically and financially sandwiched between dependent children, and their parents who are increasing in longevity, but who also might be increasing in dependence. This part of the workforce, although they may not be as vocal about their woes, are under a different kind of stress and kind not be ignored.

No matter the generation, the work/life balance is incredibly important

And increasingly, simple incentive mechanisms like getting paid, do not cut the mustard. Workers from all generations want to feel included and valued for their contribution. They want flexibility in their location of work, and their hours of work.  They want to work for a company with authentic values, and they want to be trusted.  They also want to be recognised for their talent and what they produce. They want all of this in addition to getting paid. In short companies who want to attract and keep their best people want companies who make “our people are our most important asset” more than a cliché. 

Typically, in Australia and New Zealand, as workers we are even more dedicated to this balance of lifestyle and opportunity.  We are almost obsessed with the topic. At the same time, we are lumped economically into the wider Asia Pacific region, and our productivity is critically measured accordingly. In our favour, we are generally a more creative workforce, and our human capital is prized outside of our own borders.  

Taking these multi-generational complexities and adding our ANZ obsession with lifestyle and opportunity, how do we make sure that we are giving our staff the motivation and purpose they seek?  How do we keep our best human capital on the top of their productivity game when they have so much going on in their own personal lives? By properly engaging them, that’s how.

Proper talent engagement takes understanding, visibility, regular cultivation and lots of interaction. Today’s employee wants to feel empowered, included, and valued, yet in the typical ANZ business, we are not investing in even the simplest tools or processes to professionally manage our talent.  Is it time for this to change? We think it is. 

Have a look at our eBook, Employees Have Spoken 7 Actions Small Businesses Should Take and start putting your cross-generation engagement strategy in place now.  You cannot afford not to.

About Kyle Bolster
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