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Small Business Owners Face New Challenges with Employee Communication

Small business owners are facing a new challenge these days when it comes to employee communication, motivation and training.
Small Business Owners and Employee Communication and Motivation

Small business owners are facing a new challenge these days when it comes to employee communication, motivation and training. The challenge is due to the interesting, unprecedented fact that today’s workforce is comprised of five generations working side-by-side.

Each generation communicates differently and is motivated by different things in different ways. These differences make it difficult for a leader in any size business to foster teamwork and accomplish a shared goal.

To help you communicate with, train and retain your valuable employees, we did some research on each generation and found the following tips.


Born between 1928 and 1945, most Traditionalists are retired. However, they still make up around three percent of the workforce. This generation believes in an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work.  They are loyal and they want to be respected for their hard work and loyalty.

Baby Boomers

The Baby Boomers, also known as the “Me” generation came into the world between 1946 and 1964. Now in their 40s and 50s, many are well established in their careers and hold high positions of power and authority. They are ambitious, loyal, and have good work ethics, but can be critical. They are motivated mostly by monetary rewards and benefits such as 401(k), but since they are goal-oriented, they can also be motivated by promotions and professional development. They want their expertise to be valued, and prestige is important, so a large corner office can go a long way in motivating a Baby Boomer.

Gen X

There are approximately 44 to 50 million Americans born between 1965 and 1980 and they are known as Generation X. Due to a childhood with hard working Baby Boomers as parents, they are more interested in work-life balance. They have an entrepreneurial spirit, enjoy growth potential and prefer working with minimal supervision. They tend to believe that rewards such as promotions, should be given based on merit, not seniority or age. Flexible schedules and telecommuting are important to this group and they also appreciate recognition, bonuses, stock, gift cards, and other monetary rewards.

Millennials (Generation Y)

Millennials are the largest population group in the workforce today. Born after 1980, they have become the tech-savvy generation and embrace new technology. Some are content selling their skills to the highest bidder, which means they are not quite as loyal as previous generations. They can be motivated by offering skills training, mentoring and growth opportunities. They enjoy collaboration/teamwork and flexible schedules.

Gen Z

They are very young, they make up one-quarter of America’s population and they are hitting the workforce. This group is motivated by social rewards, mentorship and regular feedback. They want meaningful work and responsibility, yet they also desire flexible schedules. Certificates and badges, such as those earned in gaming, are important motivators for Gen Z. Interestingly enough, they are reported to prefer face-to-face communication.

How the Small Business Owner Motivates a Multi-Generational Workforce

With the unemployment rate at an all-time low and the challenges caused by multiple generations in the workforce, it is more important than ever to be mindful of the individual and of their individual personality and preferences. That means listening is perhaps the most important skill for the small business owner/leader to develop.

Consider having sessions (both with online tools such as discussion forums or Facebook groups and face to face) where you simply listen to your employees’ ideas and suggestions. Most likely, you will not implement all of them, but you can certainly hit a home run by showing you care and by taking your employees seriously.

Find ways to help each employee feel important and engaged, using everyone’s ideas and abilities to the extent possible. Then find ways to reward your employees for that engagement, whether it’s with a gift card for a fancy cup of coffee, a “Way to Go” sticker or Facebook post, or a bump in pay, saying thank you for a job well done, goes a long way for every generation.

SmartPayroll Solutions Can Help

We offer tools that can help you communicate, train and motivate your employees, regardless of their generation.

  • An employee handbook can go a long way in helping your employees feel like they are a part of something, understand your policies and procedures, and learn how to fit in with your small business.
  • Technology that helps employees with communication, scheduling, and document retrieval (such as W2s) helps keep employees engaged with managers/leaders while still feeling like they have some control.
  • Our HR tools and services include an extensive library of training materials to help develop and motivate your employees to pursue growth opportunities.
  • Benefits management solutions and wellness programs can help make your business more attractive to any generation.
  • And there is more!

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay connected to SmartPayroll Solutions as we continue to share tips and tools for training, motivating and retaining your employees. Better yet, please contact an expert today and find out how we can help meet your small business leadership challenges.

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