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The Evolution of Managing People: Understanding Generational Differences and Motivators in the Workplace

Managing people is rapidly evolving with different generations in the workforce. Here's what you need to know about their values and motivators.

Darryl Horn, Thursday, 6 April 2023 • 4 min read

Managing people has always been a challenging task, but with the emergence of different generations in the workforce, it has become even more complex. Each generation has distinct values and motivators that impact how they work and what they expect from their managers. With technological advancements, globalization, and demographic shifts, managing people has become more challenging than ever before. To succeed in this environment, managers must adapt their leadership style and strategies to meet the evolving needs and expectations of their employees. Here's a closer look at each generation and what motivates them.

Baby Boomers: Born between 1946 and 1964, Baby Boomers are currently in their late 50s to 70s. They grew up during a time of economic prosperity and place great importance on job security, stability, and financial rewards. Baby Boomers are often hardworking and dedicated employees who value loyalty and a sense of community in the workplace. They also tend to be more traditional in their approach to work, preferring structured environments with clear hierarchies and expectations.

Generation X: Born between 1965 and 1980, Generation X is currently in their late 30s to early 50s. They grew up during a time of economic and political instability and tend to be more independent and self-reliant. They are often motivated by work-life balance, flexibility, and opportunities for personal growth and development. They value autonomy and prefer a results-oriented approach to work, with less emphasis on traditional office culture.

Millennials: Born between 1981 and 1996, Millennials are currently in their mid-20s to late 30s. They are the largest generation in the workforce and have grown up during a time of technological revolution and social change. Millennials tend to be motivated by a sense of purpose, meaning, and impact. They value social responsibility and seek out workplaces that align with their values and offer opportunities to make a positive difference in the world. They also tend to be tech-savvy and value workplace flexibility and collaboration.

Generation Z: Born between 1997 and 2012, Generation Z is currently in their mid-teens to mid-20s. They are the newest generation to enter the workforce and have grown up with technology as a natural part of their lives. Generation Z tends to be highly entrepreneurial and independent, valuing creative expression and personal development. They are also highly socially conscious, seeking out employers who prioritize diversity, equity, and inclusion. Generation Z values workplace flexibility and a healthy work-life balance, with a preference for remote work and other alternative work arrangements.

To effectively manage people, leaders must understand these generational differences and tailor their management approach accordingly. They must be able to create a work environment that appeals to a diverse range of employees and provides the right mix of incentives and rewards to motivate and engage them.

One of the key challenges facing managers today is how to foster collaboration and communication in a remote work environment. With the rise of technology, many employees are now working from home or other remote locations, making it more difficult to build relationships and maintain a strong team dynamic. Managers must be able to leverage technology to enhance productivity, streamline processes, and foster innovation while also maintaining a sense of connection and community among team members.

Another challenge facing managers is the rise of the gig economy and freelance work. Many companies now rely on contract workers and freelancers to supplement their workforce, creating a new set of challenges for managers. They must be able to effectively manage contract workers and integrate them into the overall team dynamic while also ensuring compliance with relevant laws and regulations.

Managing people requires agile skills and strategies. With different generations in the workforce and the rapid pace of technological change, managers must be able to adapt their leadership style and strategies to meet the evolving needs and expectations of their employees. By understanding these changes and tailoring their approach accordingly, leaders can create a dynamic and engaged workforce that drives success and innovation in the modern business world.

The Evolution of Managing People: Understanding Generational Differences and Motivators in the Workplace
Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash
#ManagingPeople #GenerationalDifferences #Motivators #21stCenturyWorkplace #GenerationZ
This article was first published on 6/4/23.

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About the author


Darryl is a Chartered CIPD Member, business leader and operational manager with 30 years experience in on-the-ground and strategic HR, specialising in Human Resources Management, Employment Law, Employee Relations and Learning & Development.

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