Guide to rewarding and engaging a multigenerational workforce


Imagine a joint family that consists of three or four generations living under one roof. Ever wondered what keeps things harmonious and what keeps them together? While a lot of adjustment and understanding goes into making a joint family work, it is also all about how each of the members accepts and respects the generational differences. Each generation has different motivators, for instance, in a typical Indian multigenerational family, while the grandparents may spend their leisure time taking strolls in a park or joining social clubs, the youngsters may be happier going clubbing or taking adventure trips with friends.

Similarly, workplaces in the current times consist of an interesting generation mix, and keeping them engaged and satisfied is a complicated deal. Organisations specifically need to be thoughtful in planning rewards and benefits for a multigenerational workforce as different things interest people from different generations. Here’s an understanding of the various generations at work and what motivates them best.


Who they are: Born between 1928 and 1945, the traditionalists are now rarely found in the workforce, but wherever they are, they make their presence felt by various unique aspects that they bring into the workplace. Their firm belief in hard work, and their loyalty makes them stand apart from the rest. As the name suggests, traditionalists value their titles and an honest pay for every hard day at work.

What they expect: The conventional promotion and pay raise keeps them satisfied.

Baby Boomers

Who they are: Those in their forties and fifties, born between 1946 and 1964, are referred to as the baby boomers or the ‘me’ generation. They are the goal-oriented, ambitious lot with power and authority. They are strong team players, but value personal growth equally and are highly competitive as well. They value status, and respect for their expertise.

What they expect: They prefer cash rewards, they will certainly appreciate rewards in the form of promotions, perks, appreciation, fancy designations, private cabins/cubicles, and so on. This generation will start disappearing from the workforce soon, and therefore, will be interested in flexible retirement schemes, and catch-up retirement funding. They need financial security. So, pension schemes will attract them the most. Health insurance and medical cover will also be big motivators for them.

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Gen X

Who they are: Born between 1965 and 1980, they are in their 30s and 40s and value their independence. Hence, they love working without being supervised, which explains their inclination towards entrepreneurship. They manage to establish a good rapport with their mentors.

What they expect: They seek freedom, flexibility and work–life balance. They appreciate promotions based on individual performance, skill and competence rather than on the basis of seniority or rank. For them monetary rewards in the form of performance bonuses, stock options and gift cards work really well.

Gen Y or Millennials

Who they are: The millennials or Generation Y comprises employees born in the 1980s. They have grown up witnessing advancements in technology and form the lion’s share of the workforce today. They will work for whoever is ready to pay them the most, and therefore, are less loyal than the previous generations. Self-development is important to them, and therefore, they will value performance recognition and rewards in the form of trainings, mentoring, skill-enhancement programmes, and student loan assistance.

What they expect: They prefer working in creative and collaborative teams. Leadership training is a good motivator for them. They should be rewarded in the form of the latest technology or gadgets. Since they are also fairly family oriented, they will appreciate weekend getaways with family, wellness programmes, health camps, paid vacations, paid sick leaves, health insurance, and so on. In case of monetary rewards, stock options will be the best choice for this generation as well.

Gen Z

Who they are: Born in the mid-1990s to the earlier 2000s, they are now beginning to enter the workplace. They are eager to learn, take on responsibilities and look forward to challenges. They appreciate mentorship and regular feedback. They are most comfortable working in organisations with clear-cut hierarchies, unambiguous reporting structures and a high level of transparency. They believe in personal interactions and encounters rather than formal mails. They are attracted by flexible working hours and appreciate practical rewards in the form of growth opportunities.

What they expect: The best way to motivate them is to sponsor their education in terms of management courses, leadership training programmes and job-relevant training with the latest tools.

Irrespective of the generation being catered to, it is important to come up with new ways to reward and recognise performance. However, generations will keep changing and organisations will have to always keep that in mind while planning their rewards and strategy, as each employee needs to feel engaged and part of the organisational culture. Besides, who doesn’t like to be appreciated?

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