The internet is flooded with articles about what employees want, how to motivate them, what millennials want, and how to motivate them. I want to give you a different view of what employees want, something that is applicable to any generation that was is or will be.
The things that I mention below in this article are universal, and I am sure that this will still be applicable in another hundred years.
Jennifer J. Deal, a research scientist at Center for Effective Organizations at the University of Southern California, in her book Retiring the Generation Gap: How Employees Young & Old Can Find Common Ground described that all generations share similar values even though how they express those values may differ.
She spent seven years researching more than 3,000 leaders, and her research supports the notion that we all mostly want the same things, it’s just that some are in a better position to get what they want.
Deal says, “The so-called generation gap is, in large part, the result of miscommunication and misunderstanding, fueled by common insecurities and the desire for clout.”
“People from different generations are largely alike in what they think, believe and want from their work life”, she wrote in her book.
What People Want
We all want to have leaders we can trust, that we can learn from and that can inspire us to be better. Leaders and managers are one of the main reasons why we are leaving. Different generations don’t have different expectations regarding their leaders. We all want to have the same thing, a good manager that will help us to grow.
No generation wished or is going to wish to have leaders that will not inspire them or not help them to grow. If you have a great leader, you don’t care if you have a new Xbox console in your game room or that your competitors have some new cool perk.
Good leaders are the best perks that any company can offer!
It doesn’t matter if you are at the beginning of your career or close to retirement; respect is the one thing we all want. In the study done by Jennifer J. Deal, older respondents talked about respect in terms of “giving my opinions the weight I believe they deserve,” while younger respondents talked about respect in terms of “listen to me, pay attention to what I have to say.”
We all want to be respected, our voice to be heard, so that our work has meaning.
According to Deal’s study, we all want to get feedback because we all want to know how we are doing, what we can do differently, and how we can improve.
You can be doing the best job and be the top performer, but without feedback on your work, you can’t improve the things that you need to improve. And we all want to hear from time to time that our work brings value to others, even if we know it.
There is a stereotype that older people resist change while younger people (millennials) embrace it. Based on this study and many other studies, people from all generations are uncomfortable with change. Resistance to change has nothing to do with age; it has to do with how much you stand to gain or lose as a result of the change.
Change is painful even if, in many cases, it leads to a better future. If it was easy, we would all keep our New Year’s resolutions, but at work, we all are a little resilient to new changes, especially if they happen regularly.
If I had a dollar for every time I read or heard that millennials are job hoppers and not loyal like the “older” generation, I would be a rich man. Research done by Jennifer J. Deal shows that the amount of time a worker puts in each day has more to do with the level of that person in the organization than with age. The higher the level, the more hours worked.
A study done by the company Bridge found that nearly 90 percent of millennials are looking to grow their careers within their current companies. And these results are applicable to any generation.
Employees are loyal to companies that provide career growth! If your employees are leaving your company, don’t say that millennials are not loyal; maybe you can’t offer them the opportunity to grow.
In the same study done by Bridge Emily Foote, VP of customer engagement for Bridge, said, “Millennial employees are looking for something different in their jobs, beyond good compensation. They aren’t satisfied with routine promotions or pay bumps; they want opportunities to learn, develop new skill sets, and grow into leaders. Organizations that create learning environments are rewarded with employee engagement and loyalty.”
And those findings are not only connected with millennials; we all want to learn! Everyone wants to see that they are moving forward, and they are not stuck in the same job doing the same thing over and over again.
In my ten years of study, I discovered that the top reason why people leave their employers is the lack of opportunities to use their skills and abilities. People want to learn and be able to put their skills and abilities to use in the jobs they are doing; they tend to feel a sense of usefulness, accomplishment, and self-confidence.
Many companies are trying to bribe their employees by adding some amazing wellness perks. But those perks that companies are offering are playing a smaller role than they think. In a recent study done by Future Workplace and View they surveyed 1,601 workers across North America to figure out which wellness perks matter to them most and how these perks impact productivity.
Surprisingly they found employees want different things than the company thinks. They want the basic things first: better air quality, access to natural light, and the ability to personalize their workspace.
I witnessed how some companies were trying to fix their toxic culture by adding more Ping-Pong tables, more coffee machines, and adding sleeping pods, but they overlooked what people really want.
People don’t care about how good your coffee is, they care primarily about their personal life, and I bet that most people would be okay with losing one company benefit if it meant they could spend more time with their significant other. Working in a new Google-like office is definitely good, but spending the time with someone close to you is way better (work-life balance).
When you are hiring people for your company, don’t focus only on one generation just because it’s trendy. Rather than having people from the same kind of backgrounds, gender, race, experience, etc., it is better for a company to recruit a diversified workforce in order to have more creativity and innovation.
If you have different types of members in your team, there will be different types of suggestions to solve a problem. And the more the suggestions you have, the more alternatives there will be to choose from. Moreover, diversity recruiting is mandatory not only for better productivity but also for maintaining equality for all. A diverse and inclusive workforce is crucial for companies that want to attract and retain top talent.
We all are not so different, we all want the same things, even though those articles we read are trying to convince us otherwise, that there is a huge gap between the generations and you need to treat them differently. If you treat employees with respect, it doesn’t matter what generation they are from.
Make your recruitment more diverse because it could take your company culture to a whole new level!