What are some ideas I can use to motivate Generation X employees?I am a shift manager of 123 Burger, a popular fast food restaurant located near...

What are some ideas I can use to motivate Generation X employees?

I am a shift manager of 123 Burger, a popular fast food restaurant located near a local college. Business is quite brisk and my customers are very pleased with my menu items. There is, however, one major problem: at least half of my employees are Generation X-ers and I am having a difficult time trying to determine just how to motivate this special class of employees.

Motivating Generation X: Give Them A Chance... and A Challenge

Discuss others' ideas as well and attempt to determine which ideas might be most successful.

Expert Answers
durbanville eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Generation X employees are of benefit to any industry as long as their employers know that motivtion is not traditional. They grew up with parents dedicated to mundane jobs their whole adult life with little real reward. Job satisfaction escaped many of their parents and they do not intend for the same to happen to them.

123 Burger is successful due to the astute shift manager who has recognized his employees' needs and is prepared to involve them in his success. He clearly realizes that the success will be short-lived if he is unable to motivate his employees sufficiently.

Due to the "work hard-play hard" mantra of the average Generation X-er, flexibility is key. Building on their strengths and creating opportunities for growth are imperative. Build structure into this flexible environment.

  • Arrange regular sit-down meetings to discuss the current menu and whether there are perhaps any stumbling blocks. Be prepared to recognize those who would prefer to communicate electronically though. When turnover is good, small problems sometimes slip through the cracks or are ignored and eventually they become big issues. The employees are "at the coalface" and may be aware of things that have not yet come to management attention. Encourage real-time interaction at specified times but also allow electronic means of communication. Generation X-ers should be permitted to notify you of a potential problem via e-mail, bbm, etc if preferred.

This involvement in the ongoing success and sharing responsibility is sure to motivate.

  • Allow resourceful Generation X-ers to make recommendations that will enhance operations. Being close to a college suggests that there are many young patrons and the average Generation X-er- born from about 1965 to seventy something knows all about older teens and young twenty-somethings - they are parents of children in this age group.

This recognition of their experience and possible superior knowledge of one demographic will equally motivate a Generation X-er.

  • Be sure to give employees feedback (not only Generation X-ers will benefit), on their own input and also on business in general - without involving them in management issues. They deserve to know that the large volume of happy customers they see every day is having an impact on business operations.

Don't assume that your Generation X-ers know they are doing a good job. They need to know that you can see their contribution and that their development is crucial to the overall vision for 123 Burger.

Generation X-ers are

self-reliant and individualistic

but they can also

struggle to find a plausible alternative in which to invest their hopes and values, and this leaves them with a sense of emptiness.

As a fairly materialistic and technology-aware group, it is imperative that any negative connotations associated with their status as Generation X employees - although obviously unspoken- is not interpreted as weakness. Stressing their connection with the young people of today is the best assurance of keeping them - and the customers happy.

Multi-tasking, one of the "buzz" words of the 21st century is easy for Generation X-ers. Fast foods outlets require some employees to have the capacity to speak with customers - taking orders- whilst preparing burgers and calculating cost: mind-boggling for some. It is important to establish employees who would relish this opportunity. Making use of technology in these circumstances would also please the average Generation X-er