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Compensation among the Generations

Compensation means many things to many people.  What motivates people to want to work for the public sector, or any job really, is in the eye of the beholder.  It’s a quandary HR Managers everywhere are facing.  Some have taken a look at this by generation which seems to give a pretty accurate picture of the wants and needs of employees in different age brackets.  Although we know money is a motivator for most, there is more to compensation than just a pay check.  What drives employees to say yes to one job and no to another?  The four prominent generations in the workforce all say something a little different when it comes to compensation.

Millennials are the most talked about generation these days mainly due to the fact they are now the largest generation in the U.S. workforce.  Since the average Millennial graduate is $24K in debt, money is a driver and health benefits are a must. However, they also put a high value on learning new skills because it makes them more valuable.  They may be skeptical about ever seeing a pension, or Social Security for that matter, so benefits that give them options to invest in their future are appealing. 

The Gen Xers consider themselves “stuck in the middle” between two behemoth generations according to a study done by the Pew Research Center; like being the middle child. They generally have a lot going on in their lives between children and/or aging parents and desire that work-life balance to help them keep their sanity. This could be in the form of flexible work schedules, adequate time-off policies, and easy access to amenities to support their well-being. 

Baby Boomers have begun exiting the workforce, but not as fast as it was originally anticipated mostly due to the 2008 Recession.  This generation is loyal and could potentially be convinced to stay on even if it’s a part-time or contractor role.  Like the Gen Xers, pay and flexible hours will be an incentive. It’s a way for them to continue to keep some cash flow going and still spend time doing things they would if they were retired.  Many will qualify for Medicare so health benefits aren’t always necessary.

While Traditionalists are technically past retirement age, some are still employed.  They typically feel a pride in what they do and want to continue making a difference.  Respect is a value this generation takes seriously. Though it isn’t necessarily something you can compensate on, there are ways to show respect with a reward like a plaque or gift. 

Public Service is an honorable career.  Employees, regardless of their generation, take pride in adding value in their workplace and community.  A salary and benefits provides employees with a means to function in their day-to-day life, but there’s nothing like that feeling you get when someone pats you on the back and says “You Made a Difference”.

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