Human Resources

Keep Generations X, Y, and Zoomers Happy

Different generations have varying work styles, leadership expert says.

July 07, 2013
KEYWORDS Gen X , gen Y , leadership
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ACUC 2013 Cheryl Cran main

Today’s workplace is a mélange of generations, including Generations X and Y, and a group that leadership expert Cheryl Cran calls Zoomers: Baby boomers who refuse to age, are tireless in their focus, and are committed to hard work.

This generational diversity in the workplace—and the conflict that can accompany it—will continue as Zoomers continue to put off retirement, said Cran, author of “101 Ways to make Generations X, Y, and Zoomers Happy at Work.”

She addressed CUNA’s America’s Credit Union Conference Tuesday.

Different generations have different work styles, Cran says. Zoomers, for example, tend to be good at structure and process, while generations X and Y lean toward technology.

“People born after 1980 have never not known technology,” she said.

Younger workers tend to place a higher emphasis on recognition, fun, and work-life balance, Cran said. This can lead to conflict with older colleagues.

Cran advised Zoomers to get past any resentment and accept the new reality of younger workers: “Look through their lens. You need to coach their performance to get what you want.”

Real-time recognition tools can help employers increase young employees’ motivation and satisfaction.

“We need to invest in coaching, not judging,” Cran said, “and move forward.”

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Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

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