Employee Incentives "Different Sizes Fits All"

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Each and every employer across America is well aware of the tight labor market. Coupled with the 150-hour law, dotcoms recruiting on campus, and the anticipated and well-known stresses of tax season, what can you do to help retain your current staff and recruit new talent. Here are a few tips to help you understand what motivates employees of all ages.

  • Mature Workers are low risk takers and need and desire flexibility. Born between 1930 and 1945, mature workers generally have had predictable career paths; they worked hard and moved up the corporate ladder. They are distinguished by loyalty to employers and are considered to be risk-averse and conformist. Make sure to value such employees for what they know, not just what they do.

  • Baby Boomers like to win, to be in charge. Born between 1946 and 1963, the "me" generation represents a greater part of middle and upper management in most organizations. Organizations must work hard to provide incentives of value to Baby Boomers.

  • Retirement planning. Many boomers experience anxiety over their financial future. Companies can offer help with retirement planning, pension benefits, and realistic financial planning.

  • Flexible retirement options. Many also want alternative options to traditional retirement. According to a survey by the National Institute on Aging, nearly three-quarters of boomer workers would prefer gradual retirement. They crave time for leisure activities and family, and look for part-time, job sharing, flextime, or other flexible opportunities.

  • Training. Keeping up-to-speed, especially in the area of technology, is a notable challenge for many boomer workers. Effective training can minimize employee burnout, job obsolescence, and career plateauing.

  • Sabbaticals. Increasingly, boomers are taking breaks midcareer. Sabbaticals can be an effective means of energizing these workers.

  • Generation X staff members seek exciting and challenging environments. Born between 1964 and 1981, Generation Xers are fiercely independent, self-directed, resourceful, and skeptical of authority and institutions in general. Provide Generation Xers some of the following incentives.

  • Flexible work arrangements. They grew up without much supervision. Employers must offer autonomy, flextime, job sharing, telecommuting, sabbaticals, and so on.

  • Skill development. This generation wants to learn new skills, both to keep the job exciting and to increase their marketability. If an assignment increases their value on the job market, they are very motivated. Ongoing training, especially in technological skills, is often a requirement for employment.

  • Feedback, feedback, feedback. Generation Xers' appetite for feedback is insatiable. Although they crave autonomy, they want ready access to and abundant time with managers.

  • Tangible rewards. Employers will be most successful providing immediate, concrete, tangible rewards, such as money, dinner certificates, and tickets to cultural events. Let's have fun. This group wants the balance they saw missing from their parents' lives. Their personal lives are more important than their careers. Incentives and benefits that demonstrate an organization's support of a balance are attractive to them.

  • Generation Y staff members are mirroring their predecessors "Generation X".
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