Generational Differences in Appreciation

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You’ve likely thought about how everyone has unique preferences, wants, and needs. Have you thought of this in the way you show appreciation in the workplace? Appreciation is more than an occasional “thanks” and should be personalized.

One way you can begin personalizing your appreciation is examining generational differences. Although there is much more to consider with varying appreciation styles, generational differences are a good place to start!

Over the past 10 years, appreciation communicated verbally has been the most desired form by employees (46%), followed by quality time (26%), acts of service (21%), gifts (6%), and appropriate physical touch (1%). This is true on average, but let’s look at a couple differences between the higher and lower end of generations in the workforce:

Senior Employees

Words of affirmation with senior employees often will be the best way to show appreciation. This group typically will not cherish gifts as much when receiving appreciation as they will words. Not that they won’t appreciate the occasional gift, but it might not be the most effective form of appreciation.

Instead of gifting a senior employee money, gift them your words. Share how they have positively impacted your team or organization in achieving goals, how they have impacted their teammates, or how their character impacts the overall culture of your workplace. Make sure your verbal appreciation is specific, sharing details and examples when possible.

Younger Employees

Quality time is where it’s at for this generation. Again, that is a blanket statement, but on average it tends to be the truth. When we say quality time, we do not necessarily mean quality time with you (sorry…). Younger employees many times desire quality time with their peers, and not directly with their supervisors.

When thinking about ways to pinpoint the preferences of younger employees, focus on providing opportunities for quality time. Teams and organizations could focus on activities that allow younger employees to spend time together (ex. monthly happy hours, quarterly book clubs, bi-weekly coffee meetings, etc.).

The point with this article is to get you thinking outside of the box with your methods/styles of appreciation. Everyone is unique, which means they respond best to different styles of appreciation. The next time you show appreciation to a colleague or employee, consider their personalities and preferences. Doing this will make the appreciation so much more genuine.



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