How Employee Engagement and Recognition Work in a Multigenerational Workforce?

How Employee Engagement and Recognition Work in a Multigenerational Workforce?

A multigenerational workforce can bring multiple perspectives to the table, generate more problem-solving abilities, forge learner-mentor opportunities, help with greater knowledge transfer and retention, and offer many more benefits over unigenerational models.

However, even a multigenerational workforce with all its merits may, from time to time, need recognition and engagement from their coordinators or line managers.

This article looks into how workplaces can foster a culture of recognition and engagement at a multigenerational workplace for better productivity.

What is a Multigenerational Workforce? 

A multigenerational workforce comprises people from several generations or age groups.

The modern workforce has the most age diversity ever. It is now customary for firms to have personnel representing four to five generations working side by side.

This includes:

  • Silent Generation (Traditionalists) – born 1928-1945
  • Baby Boomers –  born 1946-1964
  • Generation X – born 1965-1980
  • Millennials/ Generation Y – born 1981-1996
  • Generation Z – born 1997-2012

This means modern workplaces are more diverse assimilation of different generations of employees who think, behave and act differently.

For instance, the presence of many generations broadens the talent pool and changes its demography.

The Benefits of a Multigenerational Workforce

The benefits of a multigenerational workforce are as follows:

1. Varied Perspectives

As we have seen, there can be vast differences in the way different generations look at things. However, this could be a great advantage to companies because getting varied perspectives can help reach a better solution or decision and gain a competitive advantage.

2. Learning/ Mentoring

People can always learn something from each other. However, the learning opportunities become even more significant when skills and knowledge are varied.

Hence, the more diverse a team is, the more people interact and learn from each other- whether older employees learn new skills from the younger ones or vice versa.

3. Knowledge and Expertise

A varied age group does not just mean different levels of experience but also other knowledge and expertise.

This broad range of know-how and abilities is always helpful to an organisation and increases its overall effectiveness.

4. Creative Problem-Solving

A combination of multiple perspectives and diverse skills and knowledge equals creative problem-solving.

Multigenerational teams can come up with a variety of inspired ways to address problems in the workplace.

5. Employee Retention

When a company treats all its workers well, irrespective of their generation or age, it can build a positive culture and a firm foundation to retain its employees and form a robust internal talent pipeline. 

Maintaining a Multigenerational Workforce, Addressing their Different Needs

Maintaining a Multigenerational Workforce, Addressing their Different Needs

Yes, a multigenerational workforce has its benefits, but it can also have its challenges. More so because it means managing the varying preferences, wants and requirements of significantly different workforce segments and recognising the achievements of each segment differently.

That is why more and more companies now realise that the adage “size fits all” does not effectively attract, engage, retain, and develop employees from various age groups.

Hence, they also need to consider the different motivators and aspirations of the different generations in their organisation.

Companies that can effectively leverage these differences will add value to their organisation, grow their business and bring out the best in their employees.

Knowing Employees for Engagement & Recognition  

Organisations, especially with a multigenerational workforce, are made up of different individuals and have lives, concerns, responsibilities, and motivations outside the office’s four walls. Understanding this is the first step in understanding employees needs and motivations.

However, an employee survey is still the best way to pinpoint what they genuinely desire professionally (career advancement, flexibility, different perks, etc).

As companies understand their people and what their employees want, they can better tailor their rewards and recognition strategy to manage their multigenerational workforce better.

Recognising and rewarding a multigenerational workforce is a complex task. It may mean completely overhauling the current systems of recognition and setting up completely new systems.

Nevertheless, as overwhelming as the differences seem, varied generations have one thing in common — the desire for recognition. 63% of employees who feel recognised are unlikely to look for a new job.

So, let’s look at some of the general characteristics of the various generations to understand what type of recognition would work with them and keep them engaged.

1. Baby Boomers (Born 1946-1964)

Baby boomers typically have a strong work ethic, are disciplined and focused, they also like to feel valued, respected and needed. Baby boomers are also said to have higher morale and hence are suitable for a company’s culture.

Today, because many companies focus on the younger generations, the older generations can feel alienated. Many of the working baby boomers hold leadership positions, and if they leave the organisation, their rich knowledge and experience leave with them. Therefore, employers need to keep this segment engaged in pre-empting a void left by them that can be difficult to fill.

So, how should companies retain their Baby Boomers and keep them engaged in the workplace?

This segment of the workforce likes to be acknowledged and be seen. Therefore, recognition and visibility are essential to them and a fundamental way to keep them engaged at work.

Moreover, giving them due fame and glory for their accomplishments can keep them motivated.

In addition, Baby Boomers can be rewarded with:

a. Healthcare benefits

While everyone, to an extent, is motivated by salary, Baby Boomers can have other priorities. For example, since their current company is likely the last that they will work for, they would probably be interested in health care benefits for obvious reasons. Therefore, companies could grant extra health care benefits or retirement contributions, a practical, thoughtful, and valuable reward.

b. Allow for mentoring programmes

Baby Boomers have a wealth of experience. Companies can enable accomplished employees from this segment to pass on this knowledge. It is a form of recognition they will cherish. In addition, this will prevent them from feeling obsolete and help the younger, more inexperienced employees gain valuable knowledge, skills, and know-how that they otherwise may not have access to. It is a win-win situation for all.

c. Heading challenging assignments

Heading challenging assignments may sound more like a burden and therefore counterintuitive. However, if you let your Baby Boomers know and make it public knowledge that they are heading these assignments because of their accomplishments, they will thrive on these challenges. Of course, it also helps that they have rich experience and will be able to head these types of assignments better than most other employees.

2. Generation X (Born 1965-1980)

Generation Xers are generally entrepreneurial, place a high value on work-life balance, and are typically independent. They also tend to be more collaborative, flexible, adaptable and possess traditional leadership skills and a work ethic essential for companies to gain a competitive advantage.

This segment consists of people between ages 37 and 51 years, and many are in the top executive positions in companies. They are critical to the workforce because, like Baby Boomers, they also have a wealth of invaluable experience and traits. Hence, companies cannot ignore the strengths that Generation Xers bring to the table.

So, how can companies recognise and reward their generation Xers and keep them engaged in the workplace?

a. Allow work-life balance

As mentioned before, generation Xers value a work-life balance as they are the segment with the most familial responsibilities. Therefore, they are inclined to manage their work schedules to pursue other interests and spend time with their families. Hence, companies can ensure that they can maintain their work-life balance.

An employee from this segment can highly appreciate forms of recognition like enhanced time off, a few extra days of vacation time or even fewer working hours for a few weeks.

b. Provide flexibility 

Generation Xers value diversity and creative thinking. They tend to thrive in an environment that is informal and flexible. Hence, the freedom to be flexible can also be a valuable reward to them.

Companies can, therefore, offer recognition in the form of allowing flexibility and allowing them to be able to decide their work schedules.

c. Offer new learning opportunities 

Gen Xers are generally eager learners. They place great value on developing themselves both professionally and personally. Providing them with learning opportunities, therefore, becomes an excellent way to reward them. In addition, companies can offer them plenty of training and opportunities to enrol in new courses, and such.

3. Generation Y/ Millennials (Born 1981-1994)

Millennials are confident and highly tech-savvy. They also value work-life balance, career fulfilment, flexibility, performance and, definitely, rewards.

This is an important segment in any company since they make up a large part of its workforce. Hence, hiring and, more importantly, retaining millennial employees should be a top priority for any company as the workforce changes and more millennials take on management positions.

It is essential for Millennials to feel that their work and contributions make a difference and highly appreciate special recognition.

a. Give promotions 

Millennials are typically motivated by promotions. Hence, companies should consider rewarding their consistently top-performing millennials with promotions rather than just promoting by tenure. This strategy will also help boost productivity and drive in all other employees.

b. Give unique rewards 

Millennials are known to love personalised recognition. Hence organisations can give out fun rewards customised to each recipient. Tokens of recognition like dinner for two, a dance class, movie tickets, tickets to a concert depending on what the employee enjoys can be great rewards. These are also great ways to show that companies recognise each employee’s individuality and be highly appreciated.

c. Professional development

Millennials want to be part of a culture that enables them to be the best they can be. For instance, 80% of millennials say that the importance given to personal growth is the most crucial part of a company’s culture.

Therefore, rewarding millennials with learning opportunities is always a good idea. In addition, companies can fund professional development like management programs or even pay for advanced degrees or additional certifications- this will help both the recipient and the organisation in the long run.

4. Generation Z (Born after 1994)

Generation Zers are independent, entrepreneurial, and competitive. They are also confident, hardworking, motivated by career growth and not afraid to speak their minds.

The number of Gen Z workers in the workplace will only rise, and hence companies cannot afford to ignore this segment of the workforce.

That means it is important for any company who wants to get the most out of this segment to understand their expectations and what they want from work, particularly when it comes to recognition and reward.

a. Provide opportunities for growth 

Generation Z is motivated by job security and stability. Hence recognising their achievements through opportunities for growth and progress in their careers can be one great way of rewarding and keeping Generation Z engaged.

b. Small but immediate rewards

Generation Z lives in a world of immediacy. They are used to getting everything instantly. They, therefore, appreciate rewards that give them the recognition they deserve immediately, even if they are small rewards.

Companies can spotlight those who have gone above and beyond with simple rewards like a team outing, tickets to a sporting event, etc. There are several ways to motivate Generation Z that will eventually have a significant and positive impact on productivity and engagement.

c. Offer digital perks and recognition

Technology and digitisation is a crucial part of Generation Z’s lives. Hence, offering tech-centric rewards and recognition can be highly appreciated. For example, Netflix or Spotify subscriptions can be great for always-plugged-in employees.


A multigenerational workforce is the new normal. Most organisations now have workers spanning different age groups, and each group has their unique traits.

However, they also share things in common. Therefore, to have a harmonious workplace, companies have to bring out the commonalities and celebrate the differences. This can provide a positive employee experience and enable individuals to fulfil their professional needs and potential.

And now it is your turn. Do you have any ideas on how to recognise and engage different segments of a multigenerational workforce? If you do, we would love to hear from you! Leave us a comment!


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