I received Harvey Mackay’s newsletter in my email today. It discusses the importance of constant reward for the newest generation of workers, Gen Y or the Millinials. He describes a story he saw on TV that talks about how Gen Y workers are looking for constant reward. If they don’t find it they move on. This creates a big challenge for HR. How do we retain these workers? How do we reward them? What do we reward them with?
Unfortunately, this is a problem Baby Boomer parents have created. Everyone gets rewarded. “My Child is a Winner” bumper stickers, graduation ceremonies for EVERY grade, sporting events were there are no losers just “winners” and no one being failed in school. All of this goes against Skinnerian reinforcement theory that shows that behavior that is constantly rewarded goes away very quickly if the reward does not continue. So we have created a situation where we reward ALL good behavior and then are suprised when that good behavior disappears as soon as we stop the reward. In the workplace that means we have to give fairly constant rewards for the smallest things, otherwise we risk losing that employee because they “don’t feel appreciated.”
I am not certain what the cure for this is, but I don’t think it is going to be the workplace. HR and managers are having to deal with a pattern of behavior that gets established early in life. So you parents today take heed you are making my job in the future harder!