A major challenge that managers face in contemporary workplaces is motivating employees. However, the inducements that motivate are unique for every individual. As employers are instinctively concerned about meeting their business objectives, it is worthwhile for them to strike meaningful relationships with their employees and together identify the things that help their employees achieve their personal goals and aspirations, as well as meet business objectives. Some of the things that motivate employees include factors such as responsible leadership, career advancement, recognition, and the nature of the job.
Being attentive to the issue of employee motivation is important for a variety of business reasons. Having responsible leaders can serve as a motivational tool by communicating organisational norms and values. If leaders maintain good relations with their staff and treat them fairly, this may improve performance levels and loyalty. Also, most employees today want to be recognised for their work and are constantly looking for ways to improve their skill sets and aptitudes. When employees receive such developmental opportunities, in line with the norm of reciprocity they not only become more committed to the organisation but are also more likely to stay.
Several studies on generational differences have suggested that the needs of younger workers are different from those of older workers. As younger people are less likely to have outside obligations, they are primarily motivated by personal growth and new learning opportunities. On the other hand, workers approaching the end of their careers may not be as interested in developmental opportunities as in the opportunity to flexibly arrange work and non-work obligations.
Finally, motivational incentives need to be carefully designed to fit the requirements of different generational groups. While this is an approach employers might be unwilling to embrace, when it comes to incentive schemes one size rarely fits all.
Dr Shainaz Firfiray is an assistant professor of organisation and human resource management at Warwick Business School at the University of Warwick.