Generation Y and Z motivation

Today’s labour market is very dynamic and constantly changing, determined not only by economic conditions, but also by the diverse age structure of the working population.

Employees in organisations differ not only in terms of age, but also have different skills, work experience and social mentality. The coexistence of different generations is a natural phenomenon, but it poses a major challenge for employers who are faced with changes regarding human resources management, including the reorganisation of work culture and the revision of company values.

A new generation in the labour market

Currently, four generations can be distinguished in the labour market (after Lain-Kennedy “The Almanac of American Employers”):

  1. Baby Boomers – born between 1946 and 1969,
  2. Generation X (Baby Busters) – born between 1970 and 1979,
  3. Generation Y (Millenials) – born between 1980 and 1999,
  4. Generation Z (Generation C) – born after 2000.

The two youngest generations, Generation Y (young workers) and Generation Z (those just entering the labour market or still in education), differ significantly from the older generations, not only in terms of age and experience, they also have a new perspective on work, the employer and the employee’s role in the company.

Employees from generations Y and Z are entering the labour market and will become its main driver in the coming years – by 2020 they will account for 50% of the workforce. When these generations enter an organisation, they bring with them their characteristic values, attitudes and behaviours. Their needs, aspirations, life expectations and professional goals are different from those of previous generations. They become employees who require different management, motivation or recruitment. In order to know how to effectively manage employees from generations Y and Z, it is necessary, first and foremost, to get to know and understand them – this will allow the employer, not only to avoid potential conflicts with them, but also to effectively recruit them and influence their commitment to work.

Employers facing change

Representatives of generations Y and Z are distinguished from other generations above all by their life experiences. These young people have grown up in a free-market economy and have had intrinsic contact with new technologies, which have not only developed before their eyes but, as in the case of Generation Z, have always been a permanent feature of their lives. What’s more, both of these generations have grown up in an environment of increasing living standards and consumption, have a wide range of educational and career choices, and enjoy greater mobility, which contributes to their openness to the world and people.

Representatives of generations Y and Z tend to believe that they make decisions quickly and are able to carry out the tasks entrusted to them effectively, as long as they are in line with their interests (after Sylwia Stachowska ‘Expectations of representatives of generation Y towards work and employers’). They emphasise that they want to travel and meet new people, feel comfortable in a fast-changing environment, and like to learn using computers and new technologies.

Strengths and weaknesses of representatives of generations Y and Z (after Małgorzata Baran and Monika Kłos ‘Generation Y – truths and myths in the context of generation management’):


Familiarity with new technologies       

Task-oriented approach to work       

Independence and ambition       

orientation to personal development       

A positive attitude to change and innovation       

High self-esteem, clear expectations      

High commitment to work that is interesting and rewarding      

High importance of the company’s reputation and good working atmosphere       

Taking care of work-life balance


Reluctance to comply with rules       

A demanding attitude towards the employer      

Need for constant feedback and stimulation       

Difficulties in direct contacts       

Willingness to take risks       

Problems accepting criticism       

Less inclined to loyalty       

Own comfort and convenience rather than making sacrifices for the employer

As Sylwia Stachowska researched, the representatives of the two generations in question have very specific expectations of their job and employer. Their priority is high remuneration, they also value a good atmosphere, opportunities for development, promotion and learning, and want to maintain a balance between work and personal life.

Representatives of generations Y and Z, despite a positive attitude to change and a fast-paced lifestyle, prefer employment in the form of an open-ended contract. Young employees have a negative attitude towards overtime, but value flexible working hours. Most prefer a regular monthly income to irregular, even higher earnings.

For employees from generations Y and Z, remuneration is not just about money; they also expect fringe benefits from their employer, tailored to their needs. Among those often mentioned are:

  • funding for training and various forms of further training,
  • additional medical care,
  • additional insurance,
  • additional paid holidays,
  • employer-funded sports and leisure activities (e.g. Multisport card),
  • leisure funding and training and recreational trips,
  • mobile phone, laptop, company car.

Representatives of generations Y and Z are self-confident young people aware of their value on the labour market. They can boldly state their expectations and are determined to achieve their goals. At the same time, they possess many skills that are valuable to employers. Getting to know and understand employees from generations Y and Z is a challenge for employers, but it is also key to managing young teams effectively. Employers must prepare for the natural consequences of the changes on the labour market, which will require them, among other things, to offer attractive remuneration packages, flexible forms of employment, include funds for training and development, but above all to adapt motivation tools to the individual needs and preferences of each employee. In a word, it is time for change!


Author: Bożena Roczniak