Employee Motivation Theory and Practice

People live in the XXI century, i.e. the period of high technology and rapid development. The world around us is changing; and the transformation affects all aspects of our society. Someone is seeking to keep up with innovations; somebody, on the contrary, maintains a conservative position. What kind of behavior strategy a person chooses to adapt to these changing conditions often depends not only on personal beliefs but also on the factors such as the social environment, education, and belonging to a certain generation.

The problem of fathers and children has existed in this world for a long time; and the question of mutual understanding between the generations was regularly raised in various literature sources as an art and science. In the today’s period, the gap between the generations is becoming more prominent. The conditions, in which the representatives of different ages were raised and educated, are dramatically changing. Without a doubt, these circumstances had a substantial effect on their values and lifestyles, i.e. changing thinking, a way of life, and the relation of people to leisure and work.

In 1991, American scientists Neil Howe and William Strauss published a book on the theory of generations. There they described their ideas that approximately every 20 years in the world there was a change of generations. At that period, people with new values, a new mindset that have other life trajectories started to arrive (Schroer 2004).

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Which Generation Has Been the Most Productive

Many people argue that the representatives of different generations have a difficulty understanding each other. The reason is that they have grown up in radically different conditions. It is believed that the younger generation that is coming out now on the labor market has different work values. It has other requirements for the job and different expectations. However, there are representatives of various generations that differ significantly from each other on the issue of labor values. In the recent years, the theory of age groups has gained its popularity. It is often possible to hear the notion of the generations X, Y and Z, which are currently the most active members of the workforce and consumers of economic goods and services. This essay will describe them and determine which one has established themselves as productive and efficient employees.

Differences in the Generations X, Y and Z

In general, what is a generation? From the very definition , it is not clear. According to the dictionary, the demographics generation or as they say cohort is those people born in the same year. Age groups are also called a stage descent from a common ancestor; each of them is spanning 30 years. In practice, expansion in three decades at our stage of civilization development is a giant difference of worldviews. It is also worth considering the border crossing millennia. It is sometimes said that every generation spans five years. More or less it seems to be true: as one year, sometimes ten ones, creates people with different paradigms of consciousness and a set of social and technological skills. The confusion in concepts occurs due to the fact that it is not considered the acceleration time as well as the fact that the measured generation of a thirty-year period and irrelevant formalism approach. Discipline does not govern these processes, but reflects and explores (Martin & Prince 2008, p.65).

It is difficult to find the one, agreed by scientists, definition of each generation. Some scholars establish them based only on time. That is, starting from the year of birth, someone is focusing on similar values and attitudes, as well as community education conditions. It should be noted that a great influence on the process of determining generations has a social, cultural and economic conditions. They can vary greatly in different countries. A turning point affecting the development of society can occur in various states with a difference in one decade. For example, the prevalence of the Internet happened in the United States in the 90s of the last century. Meanwhile Europe did not experience it only until the beginning of the new millennium. Obviously, such important events have an impact on the development of community and help to draw a line between generations. Thus, the boundaries of the age groups X, Y and Z are not defined and stably vary somewhat depending on the countries and scientific approaches (McCrindle & Wolfinger 2011, p. 89).

The Generation X is the one of people born after 1965. The upper limit varies between different age groups of writers. Some scholars place it at the point of 1976 (Wilson n. d., p.56). Other persons mention the years 1980 or 1984 (Martin & Prince 2008, p.65).

The US scientists say about the people of this era as the lost generation. At that time, America began to experience the era of divorce. It had an impact on many individuals. While in America this period started, it had a big impact on many families. The Generation X has many common features, which includes indifference on the political and social matters, as well as minimal levels of initiative and skepticism. The people of X are also well known as a highly educated age group with a lot of knowledge on different subjects. If to compare with the previous generations that were used to working together X representatives focused on hard work and individual success. They used to build their careers throughout their life, gradually moving in this direction. Those people exhibited some air of independence while seeking a constant input as to their work product. They coveted the team approach to problem solving while relishing their time away to escape and do nothing. They were easily bored and wanted to change tasks while striving to be a part of the workplace future. The challenges are in front of us. One should find out what makes this generation tick and structure the workplace for them or force the round peg of this age group X into the square hole of corporate America and government (Martin & Prince 2008, p.65).

Representatives of the Generation X were the first ones to oppose to governmental organizations and using traditional approaches to doing business. They had been vocal about the fact that their professional lives were the means to enrich their personal lifestyles. Many of them were giving more priority to their friends and family. X stated that there had been nothing more important. In their opinion, having a prestigious profession with a big salary was only the insurance for their retirement years. Moreover, the health benefits were playing a big role in choosing a position at the certain company.

The psychological portrait of those people belonging to the Generation X contained the qualities such as desire to know themselves and unwillingness to solve social problems. The relatively high financial situation allowed them to engage into business, learn and educate themselves, travel and have a hobby. However, those factors could not help X individuals deal with the internal disorder, anxiety, and restlessness. Psychologists say that the representatives of the Generation X were more prone to depression. Emotionally, they could be characterized by sincere feelings, constancy in friendships and family relationships. Those people were ready to take responsibility in the cases when it might compromise them.

At their workplace, the representatives of the Generation X were guided by the principle of our whole life is a struggle. Therefore, the excessive humanism was not common for them. Therefore, the further generation was clearly experiencing the activity of ‘X’ individuals that aggressively had replaced them from management positions. However, at the same time, those people could not forget about the practical benefits of interpersonal relationships. Therefore, they paid much attention to the corporate culture and team building (Jorgensen 2003, pp.41 – 49).

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As consumers of goods and services, the Generation X was formed at the time when supermarkets and hypermarkets began to appear. It was the reason that the X people were willing to lose money in order to save their time. They were willing to pay for the shops with a large selection of quality goods and have a high level of service. The motto of the X buyer was as follows, “Surprise me, and I’ll buy you”. Referring to them as bright and unique individualities, they wanted to acquire the same exclusive products and services (Wilson n. d., p.56).

The Generation Y, also referred to as the network generation and the millennials, had been born roughly between the years 1985 and 1995 (Jorgensen 2003, pp.41 – 49). The characteristic feature of it includes a wide spread of the Internet, pop culture, and mobile phones during their growing up. These factors had a great influence on their values and attitudes. The people of Y were accustomed to constantly being in touch in order to maintain their important communication, collaboration, and cooperation. They were not ready to spend their lives in one place. They tended to a variety of work. Therefore, those people were ready for training and retraining throughout their life. The individuals of Y were characterized by greater flexibility. They quickly adjusted to changing conditions. However, at the same time, they were changing the conditions themselves. Those people were ready to impose their own rules if they saw that it would bring them great benefits and increase efficiency.

There are other points of view. Some argue that the Y people are used to consume information, pop culture, and products. They do not aspire to work, do not want to grow, but are characterized by the concept of eternal youth and constant narcissism (Crampton ‎& Hodge, 2011, p. 67). The issue of hiring new talented young workers who have just graduated established new terminologies in the field of practice and management. With the change in the younger employment force from the Generation X to the Millennial one, companies are finding different attitudes and work habits. New college graduates are arriving as the workforce. They have never recognized world without computers. These younger employees are looking for modernizing ways to complete the tasks. Younger workers are less committed to staying with the same company. It does not matter whether they have a loyalty problem, better opportunities elsewhere or just get bored with their jobs. They do not have that loyalty. They might be offered more money and even if they like working here, it doesn’t stop them from leaving. Younger employees presume promotions much faster than former generations. To add, the professionals in human resources field expect young employees to move up faster, thus not being shy about telling a boss they want his or her job. Regarding the attitudes, the generation Y has deferring concerns towards work. It does not place much emphasis on how and when the work gets done but just they see that it is done.

The Generation Y is less interested in a formal component of the career, i.e. the title. They are more interested in the spiritual and physical comfort. The spiritual one means that these people enjoy working in such a place where they have a possibility to evolve further. They are very concerned about the feeling that they have ceased to grow. The sense of stagnation is extremely uncomfortable for such persons. When it happens they are not interested in advancing in their career. The physical comfort is an opportunity to live with dignity, travel, spend money on the latest gadgets as well as party. The people of Y are idealists of the last century. However, it is understandable because of the every possibility available in the XXI century (Valentine & Powers 2013, pp. 597 – 606).

The Generation Z is the people born between 1995 and 2010 (Martin & Prince 2008, p.65). Right now, the members of this age group have not yet entered the labor market. Therefore, it is difficult to talk about their work attitudes and values though possible to point out some characteristic features. The representatives of the Generation Z have grown up surrounded by modern technology. They are less sociable than the previous generation, and being more focused on themselves and their own world. Because of this, some scholars have called this generation as the Generation MeMeMe emphasizing their focus on their own thoughts and feelings and not on others. Due to the development of electronic technology, Zetas have become accustomed to the visual perception of data. It makes it possible to assume that over time the market will find the new ways of learning and new work technologies, which will be brought by this age group Z.

The Generation Z will be the first one to grow up with such technological advancements such as social media. It will lead them being Internet smarter. One of the main problems for them is that they are impatient and prefer things to be done quickly and for everything to be available everywhere at all times. Although these people are our future I see it being an excellent trait. These individuals for the most of their time just were sitting and waiting. With this generation, they expect it to be done and will do it if necessary. As said before the generation Z is hooked to the Internet leading them to believe that the actual life takes place in this virtual reality. The statistics show that more than 8/10 of them are addicted to social media leading them to believe that is real. It is possible that their representatives are more comfortable with communicating with another person through a screen. It can lead them to the complete loss of social skills.

Although there is not a lot of date on the Generation Z, it is possible to say that in future they will be different leaders and workers. Their perception of life is completely different from what other generations sought out to be. They believe they are the best ones and demand the best. It is what will further revolutionize the world and the way people are living, for the better or worse. While many individuals believe the lack of skills and stability will cause many problems for this generation it can be seen now, from the way businesses are being set up, there is no real 9-5 job anymore for a basic life. Most positions coming out these days are select times and dates. Only a set amount of hours per week is available; and you handle how you finish them.

Once again, the boundaries of generations are conditional. For example, the person born in 1995 will be closer to the one who was born in 1994. This is a representative of the other age group than the one born in 2005, i.e. the representative of that period. Therefore, the scientists point out that the boundaries are calculated with the assumption of + – 3 years. For the people who are at the crossroads of time period, these ones often obtain the characteristics of both (Singh 2014, p.33).

Each generation has several names. None is valid from a scientific point of view. Studies have shown that the changes take place smoothly. Anyone who was born in 1980 will be the closer personality to the one from 1979 than to the person from 1990.

The culture of the United States, like among many other countries, is changing towards individualism. It has many positive aspects; in particular, it is related to increased levels of tolerance. Our work is focused on increasing narcissism as one of the negative manifestations. To investigate this cultural phenomenon it is better to analyze various social activities, starting with how people behave in Facebook and how they name their children. In general, by observing the generation, the increasing individualism, narcissism, self-esteem, and tolerance can be noticed now.

Narcissism is overestimating oneself. It includes the character traits such as self-centeredness; they draw attention to themselves and possess the sense of being chosen as the best ones. Narcissism is associated with individualism. However, individualism comes with a less responsibility and the sense of superiority over others. In extreme cases, narcissism can be a mental disorder. However, it happens rarely (Campbell and Twenge 2009, p. 24).
The changes in the culture began at least in the early 1970s. Therefore, it is more than the impact of social networks and television along with reality shows. There is an important difference between staying young and being full of life; for example, being energetic and open to new ideas, growing, as well as abandoning important duties and responsibilities of adults.

There is a theory that millennials have to be involved with the generation of civic consciousness. However, a large amount of data that have been collected does not support this idea. When conducting the research on group differences, it does not matter whether it is about cultures, sexes and generations, there is always a risk to consider differences and stereotypes in individuals in a negative (and sometimes positive) manner.
The young generation has more tolerance. At the same time, such people have a smaller tendency to identify with the nation and sometimes with occasional groups. It is possible that in the future world they will become one huge nation. Otherwise, the society will just retire the meaning of being associated with one nation. These factors will have a great impact on the social and organizational behavior of generations (Gilbert 2011).

Comparison of Labor Values

The study of labor values in the modern world were engaged in many domestic and foreign social studies. However, it is worth noting that none of them had divided the population being studied for the generations X, Y and Z. Probably it is related this division being conditional. In addition, there is the problem of the lack of information about labor values of the Generation Z. The fact is that at the moment the representatives of this age group are at the age of 5 to 20. Mass surveys usually cover the population of 18 years. That is why there is no relevant information about labor values and beliefs of this age period. Therefore, let us define the differences in work values of these generations X and Y (Martin & Prince 2008, p.65).

One should consider what labor values are characteristic of the Gen X. For its representatives, the good earnings are of core labor values. In addition, the high estimation of interest and reliable jobs is also essential. In addition, scientists have confirmed that high income occupies the most important position in the professional area of their lives. It is possible to say that the mercantile spirit is the main feature of the X people. Such a conclusion would be hasty and unfounded. In the minds of the Gen X a prestigious job is consistently associated with higher wages. Money is not an end in itself. It serves as a means to meet the needs and being instrumental. It is contributing to a high position in society (Wan Fauziah Wan & Tan Shen 2013, pp. 97-103).

In addition to the above values, the common issue among the responses of important characteristics of the work place are the following ones: the ability to contribute to community, manage their time, and willingness to match the level of competence of the person working (Jurkiewicz 2012, p. 60). People have become freer; they want to have a greater autonomy and scope for actions. Moreover, they desire to benefit not only themselves and their families, but also others.

Good wages are also the most important factor for the Generation Y. After the big salary they value the opportunity for their career growth and self-realization, which was not the factor for the generation X. Work continues to be perceived by people as a means of achieving success and the way to ensure that they can take their rightful place in society. Now it plays an important role not only in the material wealth, but also in other components of work, i.e. self-realization and social status.

In addition to wages and self-generation of the Y people high demands on the quality of work are important. They strive for good working conditions, social security and work ethics (Acar 2014, p. 56). The previous generation did not bother with these values as a priority. It means that labor values for the Y generation, being formed in completely different economic and political conditions, differ from those ones of the people from X to a certain extent. The new generation is forming positive attitudes towards work. These people are ready to work, improve their knowledge and skills. They determine high aspirations for a decent wage and high-quality working conditions.
It is possible to say with certainty that the differences in work values of different generations really exist. There are no such guarantees, since the variety in the responses can be explained by those ones in the methods of collecting information, for example, in questions. To avoid any uncertainties, in 2006, Tal of Asia Limited Enterprises conducted the survey to establish the life priorities of the age groups of X and Y. The research included the representatives of two generations: young people aged 17 to 26 and the older generation being 40 to 60 years old (Tal-os Asia Limited 2006).

Let us compare the feedbacks of the representatives of two generations of a single question: “What requirements must a job have?” The most popular answer among the following Generation X were as: a well-paid job (87.2%), the work being interesting for the person (60.0%), and such one with good working conditions (42.4%). The least important appeared as an opportunity for the career growth and prestige. For the members of the Generation Y the replies were very similar: good pay (84.9%), interesting work (63.5%), and good working conditions (29.0%). At the same time, the least popular answer for this age group was exhausting work (Tal-os Asia Limited 2006).
It is noteworthy that the top of the values’ hierarchy is the same one for the representatives of two generations. However, the percentage of responses is somewhat different. It is noticeable that other values vary in importance for the persons of different generations. Therefore, the representatives of the age group Y focus on their professional growth and creativity in the pursuit of the profession. The individuals of X desire to be useful to society and at the same time want to have a job that leaves more free time. They do not aspire to a successful career (Tal-os Asia Limited 2006).

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It is difficult to say whether these differences are caused by the fact that people, who participated in the survey, belong to different generations. The conditions of education and socialization were omitted; and the answers depended only on age. Naturally, a person younger than 50 year is likely to advance through the ranks and reach a higher position if the one wants to. Therefore, this area is no longer a priority for these people. In the first place, they arrive at other values such as free time to spend with the family. The young generation is not so advanced. It has a lot of ambitions, so it seeks the promotion and career development (Ringer & Grama 2007, p.77).

Conclusion

In conclusion, the generations X, Y, Z do not have the clearly defined boundaries. However, they differ in the characteristics of education and the values’ perception of the world. The scientists have not yet researched the employment of the representatives of the Generation Z. This age group is only being educated and appears on the market as consumers and not as active workers. The evaluation of labor values of this generation seems to be an important task for modern sociologists. Soon it should become the main labor force of the country.

The main labor values for the generations X and Y continues to remain such as high wages. However, it is not an end but a means to achieve other goals, such as the prestige and respect in society. Labor values of these age categories X and Y are slightly different. The age group of Y tends to self-realization through the profession. The people of this generation want to be a part of a more creative business. In addition, they want a good working environment. For the people of the group X, it is important to have more freedom.

The world is changing and transforming the labor market. The need to take into account the needs and demands of the younger generations in order to work more efficiently has appeared. The potential of the young generation finds its realization in labor. It is impossible to answer to the question which generation is being the most productive one. Every age category has its advantages and disadvantages. Each generation is suitable for different careers. In addition, it is still advisable to choose an employee based on the educational background, personal skills and social status, rather than the generational status.