There's something interesting going on in the workplace right now. It's composed of multiple generations. This is the first time that in modern history that there are five generations working side-by-side.

That can be a challenge for leaders who are trying to bring their team together in accomplishing a shared goal. But, that can be accomplished once you understand how each generation wants to be motivated.


Since this generation was born between 1928 and 1945, you don't see many of them in workplace. However, they still impressively make up around three percent of the workforce.

This is the generation who firmly believes in an "Honest day's pay for an honest day's work." They're extremely loyal and enjoy being respected for that. Since they're conformists, they value most job titles and money.

Baby Boomers

Born between 1946 and 1964, this group is also referred to as the "Me" generation. They're predominately in their 40s and 50s and are well-established in their careers. As such, they hold positions of power and authority, such as law firm leaders and executives.

Boomers are often ambitious, loyal, work-centric, and cynical. They prefer monetary rewards, but also enjoy nonmonetary rewards like flexible retirement planning and peer recognition. They also don't require constant feedback and have "all is well unless you say something" mindset.

Since Boomers are so goal-oriented generation they can be motivated by promotions, professional development, and having their expertise valued and acknowledged. Prestigious job titles and recognition like office size and parking spaces are also important to Boomers.

They can also be motivated through high levels of responsibility, perks, praise, and challenge.

It's expected that around 70 million Boomers will be retired by 2020. So, they're also paying attention to 401(k) matching funds, sabbaticals, and catch-up retirement funding.

Gen X

Generation X has around 44 to 50 million Americans who were born between 1965 and 1980. They're smaller than the previous and succeeding generations, but they're often credited for bringing work-life balance. This is because they saw first hand how their hardworking parents became so burnout.

Members of the generation are in their 30's and 40's and spent a lot of time alone as children. This created an entrepreneurial spirit with them. In fact, Gen Xers make up the highest percentage of startup founders at 55 percent.

Even if they're not starting their own businesses, Gen Xers prefer to work independently with minimal supervision. They also value opportunities to grow and make choices, as well as having relationships with mentors. They also believe that promotions should be based on competence and not by rank, age, or seniority.

Gen Xers can be motivated by flexible schedules, benefits like telecommuting, recognition from the boss, and bonuses, stock, and gift cards as monetary rewards

Millennials (Generation Y)

Born after 1980, they tech-savvy generation is currently the largest age group in the country. They're in their 20's and are beginning to come into their own in the workforce. They're the fastest growing segment of today's workforce.

For some Millennials, they're content with selling their skills to the highest bidder. That means unlike Boomers, they're not as loyal. In most cases, they have no problem jumping from one organization to another.

That's not to say that you can't motivate this generation because you can by offering skills training, mentoring, feedback. Culture is also extremely important for Millennials.

They want to work in an environment where they can collaborate with others. Flexible schedules, time off, and embracing the latest technology to communicate are also important for Gen Y.

Millennials also thrive when there's structure, stability, continued learning opportunities, and immediate feedback. If you do offer monetary rewards, they prefer stock options.

Gen Z

This generation is right on the heels of Millennials. And, they're starting to enter the workplace. Even more interesting, they make-up one-quarter of America's population, making this generation larger than baby boomers or Millennials.

This generation is motivated by social rewards, mentorship, and constant feedback. They also want to be do meaningful and be given responsibility. Like their predecessors, they also demand flexible schedules.

Other ways to motivate this generation is through experiential rewards and badges such as those earned in gaming and opportunities for personal growth. They also expect structure, clear directions, and transparency.

What's most intriguing about Gen Zers is that 53 percent prefer face-to-face communication.

Motivating a Multigenerational Workforce

"To manage across the generations we have to learn to be mindful of each other and treat each other as individuals," writes Bruce Mayhew.

"No matter what generation we are from, it's too easy to keep doing what we are doing now and acting like each generation is (or should be), motivated by the same things we are.

Even if our professional -; management instincts say 'no -; of course we don't do this,' we have to be careful that our actions don't demonstrate that we do. We always have to be mindful of our actions and stay open to listening to each other."

"Use everyone's ability and goals."

However, it's still your responsibility to make every employee, regardless of their generation, feel engaged. You also need to integrate them into your company's culture and make them feel valued.

That may sound like a tall order to fill, but you can achieve that by first making sure that you've hired the right person for the job. Also make sure that they're a good fit within your company's culture.

You also need to ensure that there's purpose and meaning behind their work. Creating and sharing a mission or vision should help them understand why their job exists.

Don't forget to encourage work-life balance, offer health and welfare benefits, and provide rewards that your employees would care about.