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How to Attract, Retain & Motivate a Younger Workforce

Updated: Aug 28, 2019

Giuseppe Baldi, GM Baldi Gardens, Inc

In order to recruit a younger workforce you must first understand what motivates them. Make sure that you do your research, depending on who you're trying to recruit to find out what motivates them...each generation will be called by different motivating factors.

One big fact you'll want to remember is that: The Golden Rule is dead, the Platinum Rule now reigns:


So, that begs the question-How does each generation's members want to be treated?

1946-1964, 55-73 years old

Let's take a look at the Baby Boomer generation. Work-centric and ambitious, the baby boomer generation is motivated by monetary rewards such as bonuses, non-monetary rewards such as flexible retirement planning, and peer recognition but don't necessarily crave constant feedback. Rather, they take a more "All is well unless you say different" attitude to their work ethic. Yet, because they are goal-oriented, they can be motivated with promotions, professional development and having their expertise valued and acknowledged. They appreciate prestigious job titles, parking spaces and can be motivated through high levels of responsibility and perks.

Moving to a younger generation, Gen X (1965-1980, 39-54 years old), who are credited with bringing back work-life balance (you're welcome), are determined probably more so than any other generation to avoid the "burn out" effect. Due to the fact that their Baby Boomer parents were "work-aholics" who dove head-first into their careers, Gen Xers typically spent a lot of time alone, independent and developed an entrepreneurial spirit within themselves for it. As a whole Gen Xers prefer to work independently, with minimal supervision or micro-management and thrive in settings that birth opportunities to grow and make choices and to develop relationships with "Mentors."

Gen Xers typically believe that promotions should be based on competence and not by age, rank, or seniority, and get highly motivated by earning those promotions because it's seen as a direct acknowledgement of their dedication and hard work. Gen Xers are also motivated by flexibility in their schedules (proof that they are trusted to work independently which they LOVE), public recognition, and bonuses....especially in the form of Gift Cards.

Gen Y/Millennials 1981-1994 (25-38 years old)

Getting even younger into the workforce pipeline, Gen Y, better known as "Millennials" are described as a generational workforce content to sell their skills to the highest bidder. They are not as loyal as the Boomer generation and not as independent as the Gen Xers. Rather, Millennials tend to thrive best when they have structure, stability, and constant direction. Motivated by a lot of factors, they are also turned off easily by a lot more factors than their preceding generations.

Culture, technology and environment are big factors in both their ability to strive at peak performance, and their willingness to chose an organization to attach themselves to. Millennials also tend to take a group collaborative approach to both their work and decision making processes. They are typically motivated by inclusion, flexible schedules, growth opportunities, continuing education, time off, brag-worthy benefit packages, monetary rewards, perks, and stock option incentives.

Gen Z (1995-2015 (24-4 years old) Make up our youngest workforce of talent, at the moment, and are categorized as the influencers. Members of Gen Z are true digital natives, having been exposed to the internet, social networks as a way of life and mobile systems from pretty much birth-it is in short-who they are and how they

Motivated by social rewards, mentorship opportunities and constant feedback they are also a generation who feel a strong pull to influence. As such, they tend to thrive in environments where they feel they are doing something meaningful through their responsibility. They demand flexibility in their schedules, and crave rewards and badges such as those earned in gaming and seek opportunities for personal growth in their careers. They expect structure, clear directions and transparency and do best with organizations that cater to those expectations.

Understanding how best to motivate and drive the workforce your seeking is step one. It gives you the information you need to both attract and retain through benefit packages, environment, and overall job satisfaction. That's step one.

Step two, you need to SELL YOUR COMPANY TO PROSPECTIVE RECRUITS...In the same manner, and with the same enthusiasm and strategical tactics that you sell your company to prospective clients. A few helpful tips that we have found are:

  • Culture! Make your company a fun place to work

  • 4 day workweeks

  • Training and professional development

  • Life skills

  • Transparency

  • Mistakes are expected

  • Employee of the Month

  • Integrating Technology

  • Let them be "social," embrace it and make it work for the organization

  • Social, health benefits, and meaningful aspects of the job & company

  • Paid Time Off

  • Clear career paths & advancement ladders

  • Set clear expectations

  • Point based training systems that allow the to "level up"

  • Mentorship programs

  • Care about them (and prove it!!)

  • Get involved (community outreach, job fairs, Can Academy, etc)

Finally, step three, your work isn't done once you've hired your younger workforce, preventing and curbing turnover (and with it your need to re-hire) need to be a strategic aspect of your recruiting process. They 5 keys you'll need to Retain Your New Workforce,

  1. Platinum Rule

  2. Emotional Bank Account

  3. Teach, teach, teach

  4. Abandon the "Technician Mentality"

  5. ABAR (always be a recruiter)

Have any additional thoughts, or things that have worked for your organization? Leave them in the comments below and let's keep the conversation going.

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