If you want to motivate your IT staffers, give them interesting work. That approach would work best with younger employees, but it’s effective with older people as well, according to a survey conducted by Forrester Research. In fact, the only thing that was more motivating for older workers was a sense of job security, which could come from statements a company makes or its “history of avoiding outsourcing, or implementing layoffs only as a last resort.” For 86% of workers 45 and older, job security was chosen as one of the most important factors for motivation or as one that had a significant impact. Those younger than 45 put it 10th, with just 40% saying it was one of the most important factors or a significant factor. That’s not a big surprise, of course: Older people naturally feel less resilient than the young. Other areas on which the older and younger groups didn’t see eye to eye — employee development and the threat of disciplinary action for poor performance — are also fairly easy to understand (younger workers are more interested in professional development, and older people are more fearful of disciplinary action). The only other factor with a significant deviation was the desire for one’s work to have a broader purpose, in a way that improves the community, industry or conditions outside of the company. Older workers cited that as a motivating factor more frequently than younger people did.

Comparing Motivational Factors for Older and Younger IT Workers

Job security
Workers 45 and Over

* One of the most motivating factors: 43%
* A factor with significant impact: 43%

Workers Under 45

* One of the most motivating factors: 12%
* A factor with significant impact: 28%

Base compensation
Workers 45 and Over

* One of the most motivating factors: 29%
* A factor with significant impact: 45%

Workers Under 45

* One of the most motivating factors: 14%
* A factor with significant impact: 50%

Interesting work
Workers 45 and Over

* One of the most motivating factors: 23%
* A factor with significant impact: 51%

Workers Under 45

* One of the most motivating factors: 39%
* A factor with significant impact: 45%

Autonomy, or the ability to control one’s own work
Workers 45 and Over

* One of the most motivating factors: 31%
* A factor with significant impact: 42%

Workers Under 45

* One of the most motivating factors: 25%
* A factor with significant impact: 50%

Relationship with boss
Workers 45 and Over

* One of the most motivating factors: 19%
* A factor with significant impact: 53%

Workers Under 45

* One of the most motivating factors: 15%
* A factor with significant impact: 47%

Work/life balance
Workers 45 and Over

* One of the most motivating factors: 28%
* A factor with significant impact: 39%

Workers Under 45

* One of the most motivating factors: 27%
* A factor with significant impact: 44%

Bonuses for specific accomplishments
Workers 45 and Over

* One of the most motivating factors: 23%
* A factor with significant impact: 41%

Workers Under 45

* One of the most motivating factors: 11%
* A factor with significant impact: 55%

Nonfinancial recognition
Workers 45 and Over

* One of the most motivating factors: 13%
* A factor with significant impact: 37%

Workers Under 45

* One of the most motivating factors: 10%
* A factor with significant impact: 33%

Broader purpose
Workers 45 and Over

* One of the most motivating factors: 10%
* A factor with significant impact: 40%

Workers Under 45

* One of the most motivating factors: 4%
* A factor with significant impact: 32%

Mastery
Workers 45 and Over

* One of the most motivating factors: 12%
* A factor with significant impact: 37%

Workers Under 45

* One of the most motivating factors: 12%
* A factor with significant impact: 40%

Disciplinary action
Workers 45 and Over

* One of the most motivating factors: 10%
* A factor with significant impact: 31%

Workers Under 45

* One of the most motivating factors: 2%
* A factor with significant impact: 23%

Employee development
Workers 45 and Over

* One of the most motivating factors: 5%
* A factor with significant impact: 28%

Workers Under 45

* One of the most motivating factors: 11%
* A factor with significant impact: 55%

Source: An online survey of 129 IT professionals from Forrester Research’s ongoing IT research panel, Q4 2010



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