Managing a multigenerational workforce comes with certain challenges for business leaders. There are currently four distinct generations of working adults — traditionalists, baby boomers, Generation X and millennials — each of which has very different work preferences and habits.

Understanding Your Multigenerational Workforce

Understanding how different generations of employees view work, colleagues and roles within a company can help you manage a diverse team. Over the years, there have been many stereotypes surrounding generations — and while it's important to understand generational differences, don't automatically give too much weight to a stereotype. Though certain trends hold water in many instances, there are also plenty of variations among individuals. Be sure to pay attention to each person's individual strengths, weaknesses and preferences as you think about your workforce.

Yet there is no doubt that various generations in the workforce are engaged and motivated in different ways. Understanding each generation's set of values can help to promote a higher level of engagement. Traditionalists and baby boomers may like to hear praise for a job well done. Generation X workers might prefer to work out solutions on their own. Millennials, who are eager to grow in their careers, like the opportunity to work with other bright people and hear positive feedback. Take generalizations with a grain of salt, but also recognize that different generational patterns and values exist in multigenerational workplaces. This can help you bring out the best talents and strengths of your workers at any age.

Incentivizing the Younger Workforce

What drives millennials the most? They already desire recognition, plus they have creativity and technology at their fingertips. According to the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the millennial employee "values being recognized for their individual contributions to a team." Millennials also want positions that have a meaningful impact, and that come with growth opportunities to help them advance to the next stages of their careers.

Additionally, SHRM reports that 49 percent of millennials named benefits as an important determinant of job satisfaction. They are often more engaged when the organization provides a generous starting salary and benefits. Along with above average compensation and career growth, millennials want to work for an organization that promotes well-being, because they often have active lifestyles and desire work/life balance.

When driving engagement with a multigenerational workforce, keep in mind the above traits of all your workers, with an emphasis on fostering good relationships with your youngest employees. After all, they are the future of your business.

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