Comparative empirical analysis of motivational differences of various generational cohorts in the Irish workplace

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Raganowicz-Gargasz, Katarzyna
Issue Date
MBA in Human Resource Management
Dublin Business School
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Building on previous research on inter-generational differences, this study seeks to examine whether differences in motivational factors truly exist in the Irish workplace across various generations. Using the data gathered through Motivational Factors Questionnaire as measures of motivational drivers, the study examined cross-sectional differences in three groups of working population in Ireland: Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y. Results are not entirely supportive of generational stereotypes that have been present in the popular and management literature and media. This analysis found some radical differences between various drivers of different generations, however, these might be attributed to the age rather than generational difference overall. Even though, statistically differences were quite significant, in practice they might not pose such difficulty in overall management approach. Furthermore, analysis of current literature available on the subject has revealed some discrepancies and showed that present research did not have the same results on some occasions. In order to get a better understanding of the profiles and factors that motivate Baby Boomers, Generation X and Generation Y, all three age groups were tested against five motivational drivers: compensation, free-time, advancement potential, work environment and more responsibilities. Differences found, although statistically significant, are not considerably impactful on the workplace and may be because of the various life stages presented by the age group. However, it does not remove the fact that each age group does think differently because of the specific environment one was growing up in and various situations it was exposed to in their life-time. It may mean that although they are different as people, in the work setting they will be similar. Present analysis has many limitations and further research in the field is recommended. Overall, organizations need to foster the environment for respect and mindfulness to create the bridge linking all age groups to build and maintain a productive workforce. Author keywords: Generation, motivation, generation X, generation Y, baby boomers, human resource