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What All Generations of People Want From Work

I have been speaking a great deal lately about what people need / want / desire from their work, and so I put together a list of the top 11 things I’ve noticed that people of all ages, backgrounds and roles have been mentioning for the past 35 years I’ve been tracking. They are:

Appreciation. People need to feel cared for and appreciated – especially by their manager.

Recognition. Ample feedback whether in private or public about their value to the team/organization.

Being ‘in the know.’ Even if employees can’t affect company plans, they feel more empowered when they have a full picture of what these plans are.

Understanding in crisis. Life happens, and managers need to work with employees when problems crop up off the job.

Job security. While no job is 100% secure, employees need to know managers will do all they can to secure their jobs, as long as they perform.

Engaging work. Give top performers a chance to do more, interesting tasks.

Growth opportunities. People want to be able to learn and grow professionally and personally.

Loyalty. Employees respond for leaders who “have their back.”

Tactful, respectful discipline. Offer challenging/negative feedback without humiliating the person.

A fun environment. People try harder when they like where they work.

Fair compensation. While money is important, once salary and benefits are accepted it becomes less a motivator unless all the above are missing (then it can often be the only reason one stays in that job).

I suggest that every leader / manager look at this list and first themselves rate how they would evaluate their own experience within these eleven areas. Are you appreciated and recognized enough? Do you feel the organization cares for you, keeps you informed, offers understanding when you need flexibility? Are you engaged in your own role and are you growing yourself amply? See where you have alignment with your organization, culture and leadership or not. See where you are engaged, or not.

Then take this list and share it with your team, and ask them to do the same evaluations, first for themselves, and then as a group. See where you are doing well, and where you gaps and areas for improvement pop up. Decide on an action plan to boost one or two of these at a time, and maintain honest assessment and accountability around your progress.

People respond very quickly when we give them the basics that compose healthy human connections and interactions. When basic needs are met, and the higher needs are addressed, people flourish. The leaders role is to see to it that their people are cared for, and an easy way to do that is to find out what needs they have and then address them.

Millennials, Gen-X’ers, Boomers and the War generations all share one core truth – they are all human beings, and humans crave similar things from their work and relationships. True leaders go the extra mile and connect business systems and processes with their people, and when that happens higher levels of employee engagement drive productivity, quality, customer service, and especially profitability ever higher. All it takes is an open mind and a willingness to engage and connect with people! Reach out, connect, talk about what they want – it will pay huge dividends for all!

When we know we are cared for we are free to bring our best self to our work!

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