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Right Incentives for Each Generation in Workplace: Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, and Generation Z

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1.0 Introduction

There are four generations by distinguishing their birth year: Baby Boomers (Born between 1946 – 1964), Gen X (Born between 1965 – 1980), Gen Y / Millennial (Born between 1981-1994), and Gen Z (Born between 1995 – 2010). In the workplace, these four generations will work together. While for different generations, they have different expectations, so different innovative methods are needed to engage, retain and attract them. In this assignment, we will focus on Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y to discuss the right incentives for each of these generations.

2.0 The right incentives for each generation

According to the Cambridge dictionary, incentive means something that encourages a person to do something. Generally, the right incentives for each generation is about the employer giving something to motivate employees in order to increase their productivity at work.

2.1 Baby boomers (1946-1964)

Baby boomers are born between 1946 to 1964 and their current ages are 55 to 73 years old. There are two sides of view which is on how baby boomers in the USA and Malaysia. In the USA, baby boomers are born after World War 2 which lasted in 1945. They were known as hippies or yuppies images as they like to wear loose t-shirts, bell bottom jeans, and grow long hair. At that time, their mission is to work hard and created the backbone of economic development for the US. While in Malaysia, baby boomers can be likened to Merdeka babies. This is because they are the ones who have seen pre-independence, experienced independence, and seen the development of Malaysia post-independence. They are mostly English-savvy compared to other generations as that time the schools use English as their first language. British rule and law were respected at that time.

So there were four incentives for baby boomers at the workplace which is retirement savings support, phased retirement plan, and focus on wellness and training programs.

1. Give retirement savings support.

Employers are encouraged to give retirement savings support as this is one of the major concerns that all older workers have when they have reached the retirement age. They have been thinking on will they have enough money to support them when they are fully retired from the job. Some of them may have a lot of debt from buying a home, enrolling their kids to university and others. So companies can offer help with pension benefits and include a session with a financial planner. As an example, we have Employees Provident Fund (EPF) in Malaysia as one of the retirement schemes that are compulsory for all private sector companies. This scheme is aiming to help people working in the private sector to save a fraction from their salary in a lifetime banking scheme that will primarily be used as a retirement fund. This retirement fund also required the employees and their employers to contribute towards saving and only allowed to withdraw these savings when reaching retirement age or for special purposes.

2. Provide a phased retirement plan.

Companies should provide phased retirement plans such as allowing the older workforce to work as part-time position. This is because the baby boomers are mostly from middle and upper management in most organizations. They are also known as who have a lot of experience, knowledge, and skills. So before they fully retired it is good for companies to bring them as part-timer consultants that will guide the generation X and Y at the workplace. Besides, the older workers can still have income even though they have reached their retirement age and enjoy the flexibility of working hours.

3. Company should focus on its wellness.

Companies may want to keep their top performer of older workers at work so it is good for the company to focus on their wellness. The companies can offer on-site wellness services and incentives. As they are still working, they might have fatigue regarding stress with their work and lack of sleep. Their bodies also need more attention in the form of light exercise, healthy food and beverages, and regular health checkup with the doctors as their get old. So as a good company, a company should invest on building a gym in the company, have aerobic exercise before starting working hours, give incentives on healthy food or give three minutes for them to take a break by walking around after working for every two hours in order to keep the older workers remain energized and avoid fatigue. According to the National Institute of Aging (2019), yoga and tai chi is one of the good exercises for older people to reduce their fatigue as it combine balance and breathing that will improve their energy.

4. Provide training programs for old works

Lastly, the employer must provide training programs for older workers as they have to keep it up with the latest technology so they are not left out in terms of technology.

2.2 Generation X (1965-1980)

As we know, Generation X is the generation who were born in 1965 to 1980 which their current ages are from 54 years old to 39 years old. Generation X in the United States of America (US) and Malaysia are totally different because Malaysia has recently become independence for 8 years while the US has already become a developed country in their economy and improving their technology compared to other countries.

As for the US, the period between 1965 and 1980 was a period where the economy has rose and became the leader for nation in the entire world. The whole world that time looks the US as the ideal business partner and the ideal place to be visited in the next year ahead. Generation X were known as ‘Latchkey Children’ because both of their parents were required by governments to work due to their economy. In this era, parents were able to afford to have a maid to babysit their children whenever both of them were working as their life a luxury. But, working parents lead to divorce as they have no time to spend together. So their children was left to take care of themselves and this affects them to be independence to solve problems alone. Their generational mission is to be balanced because they know how to balance between work and family as they did not want themselves neglecting their own child like their parents used to be.

While in Malaysia, Generation X which still children were playing wildly outside the house because at that time it was very safe to play around the neighborhood without worrying about murder or kidnap cases. As they grew up, Malaysia started to industrialize with labor-driven and low-end manufacturing. The New Economic Policy was implemented at Second Malaysia Plan and lasted until Fifth Malaysia Plan which form by the National Operations Council after the 13th May incident in Malaysia brought contrasts between Generation X and Merdeka babies. This generation grew under Tun. Dr. Mahathir Mohamad’s leadership as they have seen the transformation of Malaysia from a nation that focused on agriculture which has been the backbone of the Malaysian economy, to high-end manufacturing. This generation were more educated compared to the baby boomers because Malaysia’s first public university such as the University of Malaya and the University of Science, Malaysia were established to pursue tertiary education and Bahasa Melayu as a medium of instruction in schools.

Right incentives for generation X

1. Offer management that prioritizes their autonomy.

Autonomy is the ability to make own conclusion without being managed by others. Generation X that have always been taking care of themselves since they were children tend to be independent, self-standing, self-support, creative, diligent work ethic, and flexible in their approach to their professions. With the independence of Generation X, they prefer an open-management style which listening and responding to employees’ ideas, issues, and ways of thinking and approaches to their work. They also does not prefer structured work hours because they want to spend their time with their family as family is important over anything. Too-strict hours can affect the business because it will harm their health such as blood pressure, then they will be absent for work. If employers try to control action made by Generation X employees, it actually diverts their greatest character which their ability to be creative and work independently as they have been independent since a young age so they are practicing it in their workplace.

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2. Professional development opportunities.

Generation X are eager more chances for professional development. As we know, Generation X are the first generation who has grown up with technology. In an era of technology and social change, Generation X tend to welcome and flourish on diversity, challenge, and responsibility input when they are in the workplace. Generation X are going to lead in teaching while increasing their knowledge at the same place. To encourage capability and skills, the company will gain the benefit of new leadership that can help their business grow when Generation X leading the training processes that are also satisfied with their jobs. Hence, employers should offer more professional growth opportunities to give them space to feel more occupied and empowered at work. This will affect the employees to stay and grow the team’s talent.

3. Giving bonuses/ rewards.

Employers should show generation X that they are valued, such as giving monetary bonuses or having a free lunch in the office at least once a week. This somehow will save at least RM10 for their lunch meal as they always work hard to provide their children’s college costs. As generation X prioritize their family, employers can also give them rewards such as holiday trip for a whole family so they will spend their quality time with their family members and in their lives outside of the office. These rewards will make them feel appreciated by the company. Inspiring their ability to manage priorities is one of the ways to make generation X stay loyal to the company.

4. Recognition of achievement.

Recognition is an appealing motivator for all generations that can boost their self-esteem, but the difference lies in how each generation prefers their praise to be delivered. Generation X’s choice is to be recognized by their employer in a private setting such as presenting their rewards for their successfulness in front of a small team that always works together with them rather than presenting in front of the entire office that does not know their existence. Employee recognition is important because recognition is one of the best motivators that employees should get by the employer in order to raise their self-esteem by being granted for being excellent for what they do. Even for small gesture such as saying ‘thank you’ to them for doing their job well done are also considered as recognition that company always underestimate it. By recognizing the employees, this will make them happier will affect them to be more productive as well as enhance their loyalty towards company and improve employee retention to keep the company’s most valued assets which is an employee who have well trained and motivated by management as searching for quality employee is not easy as ABC.

5. A good work-life balance.

Generation X were defined by experts as working to live because they valued work-life balanced. Work-life balance is a theory that split one’s time and energy between work and other important aspects of their life. As for generation X, the important aspect in their life is their family. They should let go of perfectionism in doing their jobs as life are getting harder. If they pursue perfecting their jobs, they will not be able to have time to spend with their family. They also did not want to spend their entire life working because they prefer time off instead of working more hours to get additional payment. This is because they want to spend their leisure time with their family members because the majority of generation X have families.

2.3 Generation Y (1981- 1994) 3-11

1. Providing flexible working arrangements.

One of the characteristics during the year 1981 to the year 1994 is the development of technology, especially the use of the internet. According to the survey done in the US, generation Y who use social networks takes 90% in the year 2019. Generation Y relies heavily on the internet which makes flexible working places possible and this can give convenience to the worker.

One big difference for generation Y is the high demand for work-life balance. They do not like to sacrifice all of their time on work. By fixing the total working hours for one week, let the workers choose the daily working hours is the right incentive for generation Y as they can balance their work and life. This will also increase the loyalty towards the companies. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labour Statistics, more than 20 million Americans are willing to choose flexible working hours. Most of them are young adults who can not find proper full-time jobs.

2. Positive workplace culture.

Generation Y values workplace culture more than other generations. The education level of generation Y is higher than previous generations. They prefer an open, friendly working environment that allows them to participate in decision-making, and feel valued and important to the company. Positive workplace culture is the right incentive for generation Y to increase their creativity and productivity.

The survey below shows how generation Y reacts about the question ‘I want to have a say about how I do my work’. 65% of respondents agree with this. Positive workplace culture will create a better working environment enabling the engagement of workers and a friendly working environment makes them feel valued and appreciated.

3. Timely awards.

According to One CareerBuilder survey, employers expect 45% of their newly hired college(Generation Y) grads would remain with the company for under two years, The times of generation Y changing their jobs are higher than other generations and the time a generation Y worker works for a company is lower. Compared to paying dues, and cashing out at requirement, generation Y prefer to know what companies can offer them at the moment. In other words, the delay of satisfaction is not attractive for generation Y as before. Timely awards can satisfy needs timely thus increasing the loyalty of workers and awards itself is a kind of incentive.

4. Worker training and individual development planning.

The average education background is higher than previous generations on average. They like to accept new things and providing them with work training can strengthen their professional skills which is helpful for their career development. Giving them individual development planning to help them have clear career development and link their career to the companies which can increase their passion towards work and loyalty. This will also increase employees’ competition which is helpful for them when facing challenges. Companies like Seattle Genetics, SAS, and Amazon provide their employees regularly to strengthen their professional skills. It is a win-win method for both companies and employees.

3.0 Conclusion

Based on the different characteristics of the three generations, employers or companies should use a different incentive for each generation. In general. For baby boomers, giving them retirement savings support, a phased retirement plan, and focusing on wellness and training programs are the right incentives. For generation X, offering management that prioritizes their autonomy, and professional development opportunities.

giving them bonuses/ rewards, giving them the recognition of achievement, and providing them a good work-life balance will be the right incentives. Lastly for generation Y, providing flexible working arrangements, positive workplace culture, timely awards, and worker training and individual development planning are the right incentives.

By giving the right incentives to the right generation in a workplace can maximize productivity and build a strong and healthy working environment and relationship which is good for the development of companies and also to the employees themselves.

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Right Incentives for Each Generation in Workplace: Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, and Generation Z. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 6, 2023, from
“Right Incentives for Each Generation in Workplace: Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, and Generation Z.” Edubirdie, 27 Sept. 2022,
Right Incentives for Each Generation in Workplace: Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, and Generation Z. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 6 Feb. 2023].
Right Incentives for Each Generation in Workplace: Baby Boomers, Generation X, Generation Y, and Generation Z [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Sept 27 [cited 2023 Feb 6]. Available from:
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