Boomers (born between 1946 and 1964) live to work; Millennials (born after 1980) work to live. At least, that’s what the popular media seems to be suggesting. But this is a huge over-generalization of what is important to these different generations. Some things are motivating to all employees, whether they are Traditionalists (born between 1928 and 1945), Boomers, Xers (born between 1965 and 1980), or Millennials. Roberta Matteson, in her blog Generation Integration, offers five things that companies can do to engage all employees, regardless of age, in their work.

  1. Provide opportunities to do interesting work.
  2. Offer flexible work options so employees can on-ramp and off-ramp as life events dictate changes.
  3. Adjust your benefit plans to reflect the needs of your population.
  4. Encourage collaboration-Think mentor programs and reverse mentor programs.
  5. Pay competitive wages. Don't believe everything you hear. Money still matters and it does so now more than ever with the rising cost of fuel, food and debt.

It's refreshing to read that there are things that are the same for all employees across the generations. No doubt age affects some individual differences, but many motivators affect each employee in similar ways. And at a basic psychological level, all workers become more engaged when they experience mutual respect, a sense of control over their lives and careers, and meaning in what they do.

What generational similarities and differences have you observed among employees of these different age groups?