Praise Goes Far To Motivate Gen Y

By Kathy Gurchiek Dec 5, 2007

As much as they may need their morning coffee to get up to speed each day, Generation Y employees—those workers between ages 21 and 30—need their boss’s praise and recognition to stay motivated in their jobs.

Kudos for their accomplishments is the biggest statistical driver of workplace satisfaction for these workers, also known as millennials, according to a new survey from Leadership IQ.

The survey found that workers in this age group don’t feel as if they are receiving nearly enough praise and recognition, and only 30 percent would strongly recommend their organization as a good place to work.

Leadership IQ, which trains companies on how to motivate their workforce, conducted the survey with 11,244 employees ages 21 to 70 from 872 public, private, business and health care organizations.

The 24-item questionnaire asked workers about their direct boss, corporate culture and professional motivation. A little more than one-third, or 39 percent, of the 1,709 Generation Y workers surveyed said their boss does a good job of recognizing and praising their accomplishments.

Six out of 10 of these workers are losing their motivation in the workplace because their boss won’t give them what they care about—praise—said Leadership IQ chairman and CEO Mark Murphy in a press release.

However, workers ages 61 to 70—who made up 1,967 of all respondents—are more driven by a clear measure of their performance. They also are the most satisfied of the age groups at work; 47 percent would recommend their organization as a good place to work.

“Age is positively correlated to workplace satisfaction, so the older you are, the more likely you are to have a high opinion of your company,” Murphy said. “And a big cause of this seems to be that each age group is motivated very differently.”

Managers clearly are doing a better job with their older workers, he observed. What’s especially disappointing about the results is that “praise and recognition don’t really cost anything,” he said.

“Managers cannot use one management style and expect success, because every age group is motivated very differently,” Murphy added.

Kathy Gurchiek is associate editor for HR News. She can be reached at


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