Engaging Gen X and Gen Y team members

To build a successful team, the one word that stands out to me mostly is “engagement.” How do you engage the team and keep them motivated to do their best at their job? But further, how do you keep them engaged? 

Engagement is important in almost everything we do in life, both professionally and personally, and these days trying to engage both Generations X and Y is almost like a full-time job. I have learned in today’s work world that different approaches must be taken when creating any recognition and rewards program to include both Generation X and Y.

“Peer to peer” recognition is more of an open approach where all team members can recognize and be recognized and has been successful to appeal to the different generations. In our hotel, we use this approach a lot — any team member can recognize another team member at any time. And frankly, that recognition means a lot to all involved because it comes from a peer.

When dealing with Generation X — a typically more self-motivated generation — I have found they sometimes find recognition and rewards programs silly and unnecessary. Most of the time they do their job and don’t expect recognition.

However, when it comes to Generation Y, I have learned these recognition and rewards programs do matter, and they matter for both large and small achievements. But here’s the key — they have to be personalized. I have discovered this type of recognition will be most meaningful and appealing to both generations if the team members are able to pick the so-called reward and also be involved in the creation and nominating process. It’s all about making it personal to the team members. For some, that is giving them a shout-out in front of everyone and rewarding them with a gift card. For others, it may be a handwritten note and a day to take off a bit early. Personalization to the team member is the key.

We know there are many different factors that motivate team members, but most importantly, both Generations X and Y strive for some sort of recognition and praise, both big and small. The biggest component of engagement I have discovered over the years is to create an atmosphere where team members strive to be a part of something bigger and better and to find a sense of belonging.