This Has Been a Top Employee Motivator for Over 46 Years

Employee recognition is key for unlocking Generation Z loyalty and performance. Here are the three things managers must communicate when recognizing employees.

This Has Been a Top Employee Motivator for Over 46 Years

After reviewing four similar studies of employee motivation conducted in 1946, 1980, 1986, and 1992, Carolyn Wiley, the Department Chair for Management, Leadership, & Human Resources at Roosevelt University, uncovered top responses such as "interesting work," "job security," "good wages," and "feeling of being in on things."

Yet over the 46 years of studies, only one answer was cited every time among the top two motivators...

"Full appreciation of work done."

Recognition at work is essential. Even though Millennials and Generation Z may expect a different pace and medium for recognition than other generations, recognition is still universally expected across generations. Yet, it's not universally practiced.

According to Wiley, "More than 80 percent of supervisors claim they frequently express appreciation to their subordinates, while less than 20 percent of the employees report that their supervisors express appreciation more than occasionally."

It's clear there is a recognition gap. And this gap is likely to widen as Generation Z enters the workforce with new appetites and expectations for how, when, and why managers deliver recognition.

In the past, the expectations surrounding recognition were yearly, quarterly, or at best, monthly--hence the popularity of "employee of the month" programs.

Thanks to the convergence of mobile technology and on-demand information, Generation Z will expect recognition to be more personal, helpful, and frequent--closer to weekly than yearly.

In fact, according to a new study by The Workforce Institute at Kronos and Future Workplace, 32 percent of Generation Z measure their success based on the recognition they receive from managers. Recognition from managers was Generation Z's number two measure of success behind "respect from co-workers."

In addition, according to the same study, nearly a third of Generation Z is motivated to work harder and stay longer at a company if they have a supportive manager, and 37 percent would never tolerate an unsupportive manager.

Supportive managers should strive to communicate these three things when recognizing Generation Z employees:

  1. I recognize your good work
  2. I value you
  3. We're going places together

Fill the air of your organization with gratitude and appreciation and be rewarded with Generation Z loyalty and high-performance.

As a Millennial and Generation Z keynote speaker and trainer, I help companies lead, engage, and sell to the emerging generations. If you'd like help solving tough generational challenges inside your organization, click here.


Ryan Jenkins



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