I reported yesterday that there is finally some credible evidence for differences in work values between Millennials, GenX, and Boomers. Contrary to reports in the popular press and blog sphere, the work values of millennials are not that much different from previous generations.
The biggest differences the new research uncovered were in a category called leisure rewards. Here are the two questions from that category that millennials felt the most strongly about. In parentheses are the percentage of respondents that thought the item was very important in 1976, 1991, and 2006 respectively.
1. A job where you have more than 2 weeks vacation (17.3, 25.3, 31.3)
2. A job that leaves a lot more time for other things in your life (38.3, 40.4, 44.6)
Younger workers value time away from work more than any other generation in the workforce today. We would be wise to respect that and work with them to find ways they can fulfill their responsibilities at work and have more of the free time they covet.
Younger workers are going to be even more exasperated by inefficient processes that waste their precious time. Challenge them to help you continuously improve crappy systems and then reward them with time when they succeed. Don’t make the mistake of improving efficiency for them; give them the responsibility and authority to improve the systems that constrain the rewards they value.
Take a look at these other questions on the survey that were very important to all generations (again, 1976, 1991, and 2006 percentages in parentheses)
1. A job that is interesting to do (87.8, 85.4, 81.6)
2. A job that uses your skills and abilities – lets you do the things you can do best (70.9, 71.9, 68.2)
3. A job where you do not have to pretend to be a type of person that you are not (72.7, 72.3, 67.4)
4. I want to do my best in my job, even if this sometimes means working overtime (89.8, 89.1, 83.9)
Please don’t miss the fact that the strongest drivers of work motivation and performance are the same today as they were 35 years ago. The research shows that millennials are more narcissistic, and they do have a sense of entitlement, but that does NOT mean that what we know about motivation and performance is no longer valid.
Instead of abandoning the evidence-backed basics, work harder to understand those motivational principles, why they work, and how you can find new and more creative ways to apply them in your workplace.