Importance of Motivating an Age Diverse Workplace

¶ … motivation to an age diverse workplace. It creates the understanding of motivation in the context of a diverse work environment. The paper explains why it is important for managers of organizations to acquire skills and knowledge regarding diversity management. It presents various challenges that managers face when motivating a diverse workforce. The paper performs a description of the diverse skill set that benefit organizations which incorporate different generations of employees. The research fosters knowledge on the characteristics of various generations, for example, the World War II generation, Baby Boomers, Generation Xers and the millennial generation. On this, it identifies various aspects such as attitudes, preferences, and ways of thought and factors that motivate them. It describes how an organization benefits from young and old generation workforce in terms of traditional and technological skills. The paper provides information on the consequence of diversity, for example, improvement of output, promotion of innovation marketing and preservation of employees.


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Introduction and background


Motivation is a fundamental aspect that managers in organizations should understand in order to ensure proper running of an organization. In order to understand motivation, managers should also possess diversity management skills useful for identification of various, employee altitudes, beliefs, background and ways of thought. These aspects are crucial for organizational development because it is possible to transmute them into positive inputs to organizations leading to improvements in productivity. An age diverse workplace triggers different altitudes and believes. For example, as employees age the factors that can motivate them changes. It is, therefore, evident that the old and new generation workforce have different altitudes, believes and thoughts which make their motivational factors distinct (Von Bonsdorff, 2011). Managers in organizations have faced challenging situations regarding the management of workplace composed of old and new generation employees. There is a need to understand age diversity and ways of motivating individuals for the purpose of harnessing skills from all workers. This research can help managers understand the issues of age diversity and motivation. For instance, managers can understand and identify unique employees’ qualities and use them to enhance organization success. Motivating an age diverse workplace provides an organization with diverse skill sets for improvements in productivity and quality, reduction in conflicts, employee retention and maximization of staff contribution.


Diverse skill sets


In an organization set up, diverse workforce may present challenges for managers, especially when devising methods for motivating them. It is evident that workers from different age groups have differing preferences in terms of work environment and motivation. Some of the motivation strategies employed does not work for all employees due to differences in age. However, with proper management techniques, a manager can harness diversity to organizational advantage. This is possible through motivation of employees of all ages (Von Bonsdorff, 2011). Motivating employees ensures that they work efficiently. Motivation for workers ensures positive reaction because their beliefs attitudes and thoughts are put into consideration. The reaction directed to organizational operations contributes to organizational welfare. A workplace with different age groups is crucial because it creates an environment with diverse skills emanating from each generation. With proper motivation of the workforce, the skills and talents from different generations are brought to the table (McQuerrey, 2013). New generation employees are likely to possess immense knowledge on new, technological business, media such as social networking while old employees may have experience for working in environments where traditional means of communication are evident (McQuerrey, 2013).


An organization that respects diversity in the workplace can table these skills to organization advantage. When planning to motivate employees managers should study the behaviors of different age groups in order to come up with succinct motivational strategies. According to American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), (2007, p.14), different generations exhibit diverse workplace characteristics which influences organizational performance. For example, the World War II generation is perceived to have immense work experience, dedication, loyalty, emotional maturity and perseverance (AARP, 2007). In addition, research by AARP (2007), indicates that the motivation is possible for World War II generation if managers try connecting their actions to the entire good of the organization. Therefore, managers can motivate this generation by studying their characteristics and devising motivation strategies specifically for them.


The Baby Boom Generation is another generation that is oriented to service, dedicated to organizational operations, team oriented and experienced (AARP, 2007). In addition, the generation exhibits discomforts in times of conflicts, and may not mind about the budgets. This generation prefers the democratic concept of management. It also prefers managers that treat everyone with equity (AARP, 2007). Motivation of Baby Boom generation is possible if managers involve them in different tasks, and showing them how to make a difference. Recognition of these attitudes for Baby Boomers can enable an organization realize immense improvement because their skills can be tapped by motivating them. Managers can reward baby Boomers via promotion, recognition of their efforts as well personal appreciation.


The Generation Xers exhibits various characteristics useful for organizational development. The generation Xers is adaptive to work situations, exhibit technological literacy, independence and creativity. However, the generation Xers may also show negative aspects, for example, they may fail to trust authority, or become skeptical. In order to motivate this generation, managers should allow them perform their tasks with minimum supervision (AARP, 2007). This generation feels motivated when they receive free time, certifications, proper resources and openings for development. This generation has distinct communication preferences, for example, email. The millennial generation exhibits collective action, optimism, technological abilities and abilities to perform a multiple of tasks (AARP, 2007). However, supervision is a requirement because they are devoid of experience, especially when tackling complex problems. Motivation of all these generations enables an organization to tap the potentials and diverse skills leading to organizational development. The organization can motivate these generations through studying their needs, altitudes and preferences. This also helps managers to determine the best incentives for each generation because similar objectives for all generations lead to demotivation, which negates organizational operations (AARP, 2007).




Motivating diverse workplace ensures that an organization benefits from technological knowledge and skills from the young generations. The young generation, unlike the old, can be familiar with business technology tools than their older cohorts. This enables the organization achieve various goals, for example, effective communication with workers and customers. In addition, an organization that retains employees of the young generation enjoys a great competitive advantage than other organizations that fail to recognize the importance of age diversity (Nelson & Quick, 2011).




Diverse workforce ensures that the business has all forms of business knowledge. For example while the young generation provides an organization with technological skills, the old generation provide an organization with traditional skills. Both skills are essential for organization success because they help the organization deal with different situations, for example, handling customers who possess distinct preferences. An old generation employee can communicate effectively with customers of the same level hence organizational operations become efficient (McQuerrey, 2013).


Diversity promotes learning


Motivation of diverse workforce ensures interaction of employees in the workplace. The interactions take place especially during work situations such as team work. Since the teams consist of different generations, each individual or generation has a chance to learn the skills of another from a different generation (McQuerrey, 2013). Motivation triggers best work attitudes for work making it easy for people to interact and share ideas.




Organizations benefit from a diverse workforce even after some has retired. This is because diversity promotes passage of ideas to the young generation. This ensures that the skills from the old generation do not become obsolete. Organizations that consist of only young generation employees does not benefit from the mentoring and learning that takes place in a diverse workplace (McQuerrey, 2013).


Productivity and quality


Workforce motivation ensures productivity and quality in an organization due to diversity mentoring that occurs in a diverse environment. In a diverse environment, employees feel appreciated thus they can express themselves freely. In this way, workers in an organization gain from each other because they share experiences knowledge or skills. This is crucial for the welfare of the organization because the application of the skills and experiences gained from each other improve employee quality of work which in turn increases productivity. According to Henderson, Washington & Waktins-Butler (n.d), organizations practicing diversity training and motivation are more productive than their competitors who do not acknowledge diversity of the workforce. It is also evident that organizations that recognize the importance of diversity training by initiating diversity training programs realize positive performance results than their competitors who do not acknowledge diversity of employees in the workplace.


Research performed by Henderson, Washington & Waktins-Butler (n.d), asserts that diversity training can lead to positive outcomes for an organization. This is because the training experience helps in changing employee altitudes, especially between different generations, which have diverse feelings and the way of thinking. This is also acts as a way of encouraging employees to perform their tasks efficiently because they feel that the organization appreciates their efforts. Therefore, organizational productivity becomes a product of employee motivation and satisfaction. However, despite the positive outcomes experienced in organizations due to diversity, there have been challenges associated with diversity. For instance, not all people are optimistic on the significance of diversity because of the variance in the success for organizations for various organizations that have employed diversity (Washington & Waktins-Butler (n.d). Critics have questioned the importance of diversity because they believe that the costs associated with workforce diversity, in an organization, are not too small to overlook.


Motivation of a diverse workforce enables employees to display their talents hence; contributes to the achievement of organizational goals. In addition, motivated employees are able to increase their individual potentials, which is a fundamental aspect for quality of operations in organizations. In order to ensure maintenance of a diverse working environment, managers have a responsibility of ensuring best relationships between different generations. Managers should have adequate diversity management skills in order to ensure diverse inputs from a diverse workforce. The efforts of a diverse workforce improve competitive advantage for organizations that recognize diversity. It is also evident that diversity training ensures that employees do not reject the idea of diversity. If, workers do not have knowledge on the importance of age diversity in organizations, tensions may arise leading to conflicts and low productivity. Although diversity training fosters employee motivation and organizational productivity, Critics assert that with poor management of training programs, and poor preparation of trainers can negatively influence an employee performance. This is because employees can develop bad attitudes towards diversity hence influencing their quality of service. Motivation of all generations means better performance by all generations (Sherman, 2006). This is because motivated individuals develop attitudes that is directed towards achievement of set organizational goals. Motivation of a diverse workplace is crucial since; an organization does not lose employees to competitors, especially due to dissatisfaction in the working environment (Nelson & Quick, 2011). This ensures the organization remains competitive throughout; productive workers do not leave to other organizations due to demotivation or poor incentives.


Reducing conflicts


Usually, in a diverse workplace conflicts are inevitable due to differences in beliefs, attitudes and preferences. Managers have a responsibility of dealing with these issues for the purpose of avoiding conflicts. Conflicts arise in an organization where there are misunderstandings on various issues, for example, the World War II generation may be comfortable with certain managerial strategies when the millennial Generation and the Generation Xers are not comfortable with the situation. Motivation of all generations in an organization ensures all their needs are dealt with leading to job satisfaction (Nelson & Quick, 2011). Satisfied employees are not likely to display uncomfortable behaviors that result to conflicts in organizations.


Proper motivation ensures that employees are aware of the consequences that arise due to age diversity. Through training and awareness managers can make employees understand ways of avoiding and resolving conflicts. In addition, since motivation ensures satisfaction for all workers, conflicts are unlikely to occur since; every employee understands preferences, beliefs and attitudes of every generation. There are generations that prefer to handle issues themselves instead of allowing the management to intervene (Von Bonsdorff, 2011). If managers respect such attitudes it is possible to resolve conflicts amicably. This is because some decisions from managers can exacerbate conflicts instead of solving them. In order for managers, to manage diversity they must be well-versed with information regarding their diverse workforce. Conflicts in the workplace are responsible for lower productivity and due to poor morale and frustration. It is possible to reduce conflicts through understanding. In this case, managers should change their perception on the new age generation. Sometimes managers perceive young workers as irresponsible, undisciplined and immature. In addition, young workers may view managers as shortsighted and rigid (Goddard 1991, p.15).


Conflicts can reduce through motivation in cases where the management recognizes the efforts of all generations. For example, the new generation employees are comfortable when employers recognize their efforts through involvement in decision making. Some generations like it when managers incorporate participative style of management. This reduces conflicts because employees’ talents as well as ideas are respected. Managers have a responsibility of availing required resources for an organization to operate efficiently.


Employee retention


Motivation of a diverse workplace is fundamental because organizations are able to retain their employees. This helps in increasing competitive advantage because the organization does not lose productive workers to other organizations, as a result of poor motivation. Retaining workers ensures reduction of unnecessary training and recruitment costs. Motivated workers cannot seek work elsewhere because they are satisfied with the work environment and management concepts applied by the organization management. Employee retention leads to decreased turnover, in addition to training costs (Nelson & Quick, 2011). Motivation ensures recognition of each generation contributions because rewards reflect each generation’s preferences and concerns. It is evident that motivation ensures employees are directed to the requirements of various generations, which is important in the creation of employee loyalty as well as retention. Organizations that acknowledge diversity of the workforce are aware of the importance of motivation. They, therefore, ensure communication among different generations in an attempt to promote productivity. Retention prevents brain drain because employees do not have to seek work from other organizations (Messmer, 2001). This is important because an organization preserves its knowledge across various generations.


Employee engagement


Motivation of various generations of workforce in an organization leads to engagement. Managers with proper diversity management skills are able to keep employees engaged. Research by AARP (2007), indicates that managers who are able to maintain engagement of workers reduce costs associated with disengagement of workers. Motivation of workers ensures satisfaction of workers, especially when all employees are incorporated in career advancement opportunities.


Promotion of age diversity is also important for customer service because every customer has preferences in terms of communication and service (Nelson & Quick, 2011). When an organization has a diverse workforce, customers from different ages are attracted to the organization because they receive services in accordance to their preferences.


Improving marketing efforts


Motivating an age diverse workplace helps in the promotion of marketing efforts. This is because the organization can benefit from the diverse marketing skills of all generations. The old generation possesses traditional marketing skills while the new generation has an understanding of technological marketing tools, for example, face book and twitter. When all employees are motivated, these skills become useful for organization success. The diverse workforce is able to attract customers from different settings and age (Nelson & Quick, 2011).


Promotes creativity and innovation


Diversity is beneficial in an organization because it fosters creativity and innovation. Motivation ensures that workers direct their efforts to achieving organization goals. This ensures creativity and innovation in the workplace. Through innovation and creativity organizations develop new processes, products and technology. When new processes developed are efficient and cost effective, the organization realizes a significant reduction of costs leading to profits (Nelson & Quick, 2011). The competitiveness of an organization depends on the creativity and innovativeness of employees. For instance, if there is no innovation and creativity in an organization, the organization is likely to retard in terms of growth. Most organizations, in this state, incorporate old-fashioned systems which are inefficient. Innovation ensures new systems, which are efficient and cost effective are used in the organization.


Organizational flexibility


Motivation enables flexibility in organizations, a situation that is important for workers because it creates a respectable work environment (Nelson & Quick, 2011). A flexible work environment allows employees to conduct themselves in a manner of their choice, as long as they feel motivated for conducting themselves in that way. Restrictions that influence the morale of workers are detrimental to the welfare of the organization. In addition, motivating a diverse workplace creates a supple organizational structure which makes work easier (Robbins, 2009). Flexible organizations ensure proper communication between the management the workers. Lower level managers are able to interact with top level managers without conflicts. Flexibility allows employs to offer services from different locations, even from home. This motivates employers to improve their quality of work for the purpose of improving organizational performance. A flexible organization structure ensures satisfaction of customers because services are offered with a different perspective (Von Bonsdorff, 2011).


Maximizing staff contribution


Motivation determines the contribution of staff in organizational operations. In a diverse environment, interaction of staff becomes a challenge especially when the staff consists different generations. Motivation of a diverse workplace ensures understanding of diversity by all staff members hence improving interactions among members. This contributes largely to the success of the organization (Nelson & Quick, 2011).




Motivation of an age diverse workplace is important in organizations for the purpose of harnessing diverse skills from all generations. These skills help an organization improve in terms of productivity, retention of workers, and promotion of innovation and marketing of organization products and service. Although motivation of the workforce has led to positive outcomes, some researchers assert that diversity can lead to negative outcomes, especially when managers lack strong diversity management skills.




American Association of Retired Persons (AARP). (n.d). Leading a multigenerational workforce. Retrieved from


Goddard, R.W. (1991). A new view of work. SuperVision, 52(4), 14-14. Retrieved on 17th April


2013 from


McQuerrey, L. (2013). Advantages of diverse ages in the workplace. Retrieved on 17th April


2013 from


Sherman, R. (2006). Leading a multigenerational nursing workforce: Issues, challenges and strategies. Online Journal of Issues in Nursing, 11(2), 3. Retrieved from


Von Bonsdorff, M.E. (2011). Age-related differences in reward preferences. International Journal Of Human Resource Management, 22(6), 1262-1276.




Henderson, L., Washington, P., & Watkins-Batler, A. (n.d). Training for Business Success:


Does Diversity Training Improve Productivity, Performance, and Fair Promotions? Retrieved on 17th April 2013 from


Nelson, D.L., & Quick, J.C. (2011). Organizational behavior: Science, the real world, and you.


Mason, OH, USA: South-Western Cengage Learning.


Robbins, S.P. (2009). Organisational behaviour: Global and Southern African perspectives.


Cape Town: Pearson Education South Africa.


Messmer, M. (2001). Motivating employees for dummies. New York: Hungry Minds.

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