Previous month:
January 2023
Next month:
March 2023

February 2023

THE GENERATION GAP: Motivation & What Employees Want - part 4 - Generation Z

Gen z eye

Welcome back to our motivational analysis of the Generation Gap. In the previous article (3 of 4) we covered Millennials. Today, we’re looking at the youngest generation, Generation Z.

Generation Z: born after 1996


Whereas Millennials grew up as the technology continually evolved and changed, Generation Z have always had advanced technology, and are therefore digitally fluent. The difference here is subtle. Millennials are more about flexibility and adaptability (having had to continually adjust to changes), whereas Generation Z are about extreme proficiency with the current technological tools. A friend of mine entered university as an older-adult student studying film. He was surrounded by Gen Z students. He considered himself a good editor and cinematographer, but when one of the classmates managed to make and edit a video within just a few minutes—during the lecture and without interrupting it—he realised just how fast the new generation are able to comprehend and master new technology. The explosion of the social media platform TikTok is an embodiment of this principle. A whole generation are using TikTok, which empowers one to create and edit videos—some of which are more sophisticated than you would think—with just a phone. Of course, there are massive downsides to this type of social media platform, but it’s not within the scope of this article to address them. Moving on, like Boomers and Millennials, Generation Z are likely to have Expert motivator high on their list of motivators. However, they are also highly practical—they like to achieve results, whether that be TikTok views, YouTube subscribers, or some other metric. This correlates more with the Builder motivator, who is by nature competitive and focused on measurable gains. What’s interesting is whilst these are two motivators shared by the Boomer generation (Builder and Expert), they express themselves so differently because the technological, economic, and cultural landscape of today is so different. Whereas Builders might have been focused on the acquisition of wealth as a practical measure of success, Generation Z seem to be more interested in digital measures of progress. This taps into an important Maps lesson, that the motivators will always mean something different for each person. It’s all very well knowing that someone has Creator as their number one motivator, but what does creativity mean to them?

Lastly, Generation Z flourish in diverse workplaces. The workplace is only going to become more diverse as our societies become more globalised, therefore, creating an environment that is diverse not just in terms of race, ethnicity, and gender, but also in terms of age, experience, role-type, and personality will give Generation Z a stimulating environment more likely to catalyst collaboration and learning.


In exchange for their expertise and practicality, Gen Z want a culturally competent employer. In other words, they want someone who is up to date, who can keep up with trends, and who understands the world we live in today. Nobody wants to work for someone who is living in the past, or clueless about how their industry is evolving, but it’s particularly galling for Generation Z, who are so plugged in to the increasingly rapid shifts in culture. Gen Z like competitive wages—which correlates with their Builder drive. They value their expertise highly and therefore expect suitable reward for this. However, they are also open to being mentored. Like all Expert motivators, the relationship with knowledge is bi-directional. They like to acquire it as well as share it! Lastly, there is an interesting point of contrast between Generation Z, and Millennials and Generation X. Whereas Gen X and Millennials are characterised by their shared desire for independence and flexibility, Generation Z prefer stability—which corresponds with the Defender motivator—much like Boomers, which shows that history is indeed cyclical!

In conclusion:

Whilst no review of such a large and important topic can ever be complete, we hope this blog series has given you some interesting guidelines and action points on how to approach each generation. Of course, as we stated in the introduction, the best method is always to look at an individual’s motivational profile to get the best sense of who they are and what drives them—what they truly want. But hopefully identifying some of the broad trends correlating to each generation will give you a few ways to start meeting their motivational needs, and thereby retaining and nurturing top talent, whatever their age!

To find out more about Motivational Maps contact one of our licensed practitioners

You can also find more information in the book series - Mapping Motivation.


THE GENERATION GAP: Motivation & What Employees Want - Part 3 - Millennials


Welcome back to our motivational analysis of the Generation Gap. In the previous article (2 of 4) we covered Generation X. Today, we’re looking at Millennials.

Millennials: ‘80 – ‘95 


Millennials are an unusual generation, perhaps one might even say unique, because they grew up at the intersection of an analog (aka, a pre-digital) world, and the digital one. Millennials remember cassette tapes, VHS, and the floppy disc. They witnessed the birth of the internet in the same way as the previous two generations. But, they were young enough that they also grew up with this digital revolution. This means that Millennials are for the most part very tech-savvy. Navigating interfaces and software comes naturally to them, as does adopting new hardware. This is correlated with the Expert motivator—something they share with the Boomer generation, although perhaps it expresses itself in different mediums and forms.

Millennials are also all about friendship and collaboration. It’s significant that Millennials are often criticised for their expensive social lives—particularly by the Boomer generation—and we can see from the broad strokes of this motivational analysis why that would be. Relationship motivators are largely antithetical to the whole modus operandi of the Boomer, who is all about work, work, work. But Millennials like strong social ties. Not to digress too much into the personal, but I am a Boomer and my son is a Millennial. I have many close, intense friendships, but they tend to be one-to-one. My son, on the other hand, is part of several large (they seem almost unwieldy to me) social groups. This might be to do with personality, of course, but I think it’s interesting that he and his friends (who we must bear in mind are virtually all Millennials themselves) have stuck together for decades. Clearly, it’s a big priority in their lives. But what might this mean from a work perspective? In short, Millennials play well with others. They like to collaborate. They like to get a second opinion. And they embody the acronym for TEAM: Together Each Achieves More.

The final thing to observe about Millennials is they are often focused on the “greater good”, aka, ethical causes such as the environmental crisis, fair wages, and justice. This correlates to the Searcher motivator, which is characterised by the desire to make a difference.


In exchange for expertise, a collaborative outlook, and strong values, Millennials on the whole desire an empathetic employer. Again, this is a subtle shift from Generation X, who above all wanted trust. Trust is important, but tends to be more logical or “left brain”. Empathy of course is more emotional and right brain. To me this suggests they want not just a Friend motivator in their employer, but also someone who cares about them as a person and who identifies with the same causes that they do, hence the Searcher motivator—an employer who is looking to make a difference on both a macro and micro scale. This is also reflected in their day-to-day activities. Millennials dislike drudgery (unlike the Boomer, who might be okay with drudgery if it brings home cash), and want work that is meaningful and aligned with their ethical values. The best thing one can do for Millennials—if we’re speaking in broad terms—is to show them the outcome of their hard work. Show them the house they built, the client they made a difference too, the impact their project had on those in need.

As we have seen, Millennials have grown up with an ever-changing technological landscape, therefore they like to keep up-to-date, and hence training and development is critically important. Expert motivators don’t just like to remain static, relying on previous learning, but to continually acquire new learning in an effort of self-improvement.

So now we understand a little bit more about Millennials. In the next and final article, we’ll be looking at the youngest generation, Generation Z. As we shall see, their motivational trends look very different. Stay tuned for more information on closing the generation gap!

THE GENERATION GAP: Motivation & What Employees Want - part 2 - Gen X

Owl in flight

Welcome back to our motivational analysis of the Generation Gap. In the previous article (1 of 4) we covered Baby Boomers. Today, we’re looking at Generation X.

Generation X: ‘65 – ‘79


The first trait identified by the study as belonging to Gen X is independence. This is an almost one-for-one correlation with the Spirit motivator. The Spirit motivator wants to be independent, and have autonomy and freedom. Of course, freelance, self-employed, or entrepreneurial work is therefore very attractive to those with this motivator. This doesn’t mean they have to work for themselves, however, only that once they have been set priorities, they like to achieve objectives in their own way, without micromanagement. So, whereas Boomers, on the whole, like hierarchy and clear structures, Generation X workers may find too much hierarchy suffocating, especially if it impinges on their independence and freedom. With freedom and independence often comes innovation (for when we’re liberated mentally we can see things from a different perspective), and Generation X workers are found to be highly creative. This clearly correlates with the Creator motivator, a motivator which is all about creativity, originality, and bring new things into the world. Both Creator and Spirit are both in the Growth cluster of motivators, which reflects a very different overall focus than that of the Boomer. Whereas the Boomers are about Achievement and work, Generation X trend more towards self-development, autonomy, and critically: having their name on the final product (which is part of the Creator’s desire to see their vision realised and manifested). If I were a psychologist, which I’m not, I might be asking some curious questions about whether there are correlations between the Boomer generation’s extremely work-focused outlook and Generation X’s independence.

The last trait identified for Generation X was strong communication skills. This could correlate to a number of different motivators, but ultimately I think is more about the clear sense of self-possession that comes from having a strong Spirit motivator. Those who are strongly motivated to be independent often have to learn very quickly how to set boundaries, how to clarify their priorities and parameters, and being able to make new contacts in absence of a more traditional support network (such as a hierarchical business structure).


In exchange for independence, creativity, and strong communication skills, Generation X—according to the data—desire a trustworthy employer. Note, this is slightly different from loyalty. Whereas Boomers (overall) desire an employer who remains loyal to them, and likely a long-term employment, Generation X want to know that their employer is transparent and honest. This is more aligned to the Friend motivator than the Defender, in my view. The Friend represents our desire for belonging, to be part of a group. When we’re with friends, particularly long-term friends, we know we can relax because we trust them, and they have our best interests at heart. Boomers put their faith in the corporate structure or system, but as Generation X are more individualistic by nature, they want to know the people around them are right, and their hearts are in the right place.

Once this trust is established, Generation X like to put their creativity to good use, with plenty of opportunities to problem solve. This is another key aspect of the Creator motivator. In their eyes, problems are just another way to create new things: shiny solutions, clever work-arounds, and elegant fixes. But of course, if they are going to have creative license to solve these problems, they need autonomy. Therefore, overly rigid reporting systems or managerial intervention is going to swiftly demotivate Generation X.

Lastly, perhaps again because Generation X has a more individualistic approach on the whole, they like to work with competent colleagues.

So, we’ve covered Generation X. In the next article, we’ll be looking at much-maligned Millennials. As we shall see, their motivational trends look very different. Stay tuned for more information on closing the generation gap!

Here is a reminder of that fantastic infographic created by Antonio Grasso.

Generations 1122 blog for it_ linda