Motivation in a Multigenerational Radiologic Science Workplace

Motivation in a Multigenerational Radiologic Science Workplace.

Management Focus: Review the below artiquel of literature that focuses on ways to motivate medical imaging and therapy workers. The review could describe how and why trends in motivation strategies have changed over the past ten years (e.g. Technology changes, Generational preferences, financial restraints, Regulatory pressures). You may want to include and focus on middle management motivation, a historical perspective on changes for radiology middle managers over the past ten years including the reasons they may or may not be motivated and analyze the usefulness of several established motivators when applied in a typical radiology department.

• For the first time in history, radiologic science (RS) workplaces consist of 4 generational cohorts. As each cohort possess their own attitudes, values, work habits,and expectations,motivating a generational diverse workplace is challenging.
• Through the understanding of generational differences,managers are better able to accommodate individual as well as generational needs and help create a more productive and higher performing workplace.
• The purpose of this paper is to assist managers in the understanding and utilization of generational differences to effectively motivate staff in an RS workplace.Generational cohorts will be defined and discussed along with an in-depth discussion on each of the generations performing in todays RS workplace.
• Motivators and how they impact the different generational cohorts will be addressed along with how to best motivate a multigenerational RS workplace.
For the first time in history, 4 generations, each with its own work ethics, attitudes, and behaviors, comprise todays imaging facilities. Because of the different values inherent in each generation, managing todays workforce presents unique challenges and opportunities. One of the challenges is identifying and effectively utilizing motivators for each of the different generations.To better understand how and why motivators have different impacts on different generations, each of the generations will be discussed in terms of their origins and how their unique experiences help shape their perceptions of the workplace. Motivators for each generation and how these motivators may be utilized in the radiologic science (RS) workplace will be addressed based on the needs and perceptions of the different generations.
Generational Cohorts
Generations, also termed cohort groups”or generational cohorts,” are described as an identifiable group that is born within the same time-frame, usually spanning 15 to 20 years, and experience the same historical, political, and social events at critical developmental stages. These events along with parental guidance help establish collective, general frame of thoughts, attitudes, and behaviors.13 There is no definitive beginning or ending point for each generation as literature varies the dates according to authors preferences.
As with any grouping of individuals, stereotyping is a concern. It is realized that grouping individuals into generational cohorts is a broad over-generalization and this is not meant to imply that everyone within the specific cohort will possess the same attitudes, values, and beliefs. The grouping of individuals into generational cohorts merely addresses the notion that people are influenced by life experiences and these experiences are what impact behaviors, thoughts, and attitudes.1
Veteran Generation
The Veteran generational cohort is typically referred to as those individuals born between 1925 and 1945. Also known as the traditionalists or the mature generation, this generational cohort was brought up in difficult times as they struggled through the Great Depression and World War II.2,4Newspapers and radio were the primary sources of news while telephones were in use; however, long distance communications were very expensive and uncommon.
As stated by Kupperschmidt, the majority of the Veteran generation was reared in a Judeo-Christian environment based on moral truth and strong work ethics.5 The expectations of this generational cohort as children, according to Weston, were that they were to be seen and not heard and they would show respect for all authority figures.6
Because of the economic conditions during the Great Depression and the political uncertainty ofWorld War II, the Veteran generation learned to be hard working, financially conservative, and guarded. Having experienced wartime rationing and conservationism, they prefer the more conservative approach when dealing with finances.2,4 Heroes of this generation were the figures of authority otherwise known as the good guys.” The respect the Veteran generation had for authority as children continues as adult employees. In the workplace, Veterans are loyal, dedicated, and respectful of rules, roles, and authority. These behaviors are a result of what was expected from them and witnessed by them while growing up.7
Motivators for Veterans
Motivating the Veteran generation is based on familiarity and comfort. Technology was limited in households when this generation was raised. Everyday communication was done mainly through face-to-face personal contact. This explains why, according to Sherman, the Veteran generation prefers face-to-face or written communications and learning experiences to electronic communications or Web-based education.2 In the RS workplace, taking time to personally meet with members of this generation and avoiding contact through the use of technology is more effective. Also noted by Sherman is the appreciationVeterans display over personal touches when it comes to motivation and recognition.2Hand written notes, plaques, or recognition from management and other higher levels of authority in the workplace goes a long way in motivating this generation.
Veterans in the RS workplace possess a great deal of knowledge and wisdom from past experiences as they have witnessed and have adapted to dramatic changes and advancements. Respecting their cumulative knowledge, as stated by Kupperschmidt, is highly valued by this generation.5 Utilizing Veterans for coaching and mentoring less experienced employees gives Veterans encouragement and motivation.
Baby Boomer Generation
Individuals born between 1946 and 1964 belong to the generation known as the Baby Boomers. The term, baby boomer, refers to the boom” in the number of babies born during the healthy, post-war economy, making this generation the largest of all the generational cohorts. Growing up, Baby Boomers were part of strong nuclear families where the father was the breadwinner and the mother was the homemaker. Television came into being during this generation and for the first time national events were brought to life and experienced in living rooms across the country. While the previous generation was raised in times of financial hardship, the Baby Boomer generation was raised in times of unprecedented economic growth and prosperity.8 This allowed the Baby Boomer generation to be doted on as children, which helped strengthen their sense of entitlement and expectations of getting only the best from life.3,9 Cordeniz reports that, as children, this generational cohort made up 40% of the population.9 As a result, schools were overcrowded and competition in schools, extracurricular activities, and sports was fierce.To stand out from their peers,members of this generation had to be driven and dedicated.
Individuality and self-expression were encouraged and taught the Baby Boomers to stand up for their beliefs. The Vietnam War, the Civil Rights riots, the assassinations of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King, Jr., along with the Watergate scandal were all negative defining moments experienced by the Baby Boomer generation that led to their distrust and disrespect of authority.4 Conformity to rules was no longer a given as this generation learned to debate and rebel against the status quo and question the integrity of leaders. The Baby Boomer generation, with its strong social conscience, embraced the challenge to change the world through love,music, and peaceful demonstrations.1
As reported by Weston, the Baby Boomer generational cohort presently makes up about two-thirds of all US workers.6 In the workplace, the Baby Boomer generation continues to exhibit the drive and dedication it displayed while competing in school and extracurricular activities. Teamwork and participation are their preferred methods of working, which can be linked to their strong social conscience and days of demonstrations.According to Cordeniz, feelings of entitlement while growing up along with their desire to change the world has led many Baby Boomers to base their self-worth, contribution to society, and personal fulfillment on their work.9 This explains why many of the Baby Boomer generation entered into professions that allow them to make a difference in the world.
Motivators for Baby Boomers
Baby Boomers thrive on recognition for their achievements as their self-worth is closely intertwined with their work ethics and overall performance.5 Recognition is also an indication of popularity, acceptance, and team participation, all of which are important to this generation. Recognition is much more meaningful to the Baby Boomer cohort if it is public in nature, as they are deeply concerned with what others think.2,9 Motivators for this generation in the RS workplace may include an employee recognition or kudos board that can be displayed in the department, an employee of the month award, newsletter recognition, reserved parking, and professional award nominations.
Communication is a must in any healthrelated field. Baby Boomers, although very adaptive, prefer face-to-face or telephone communications rather than communications through email.2 Also, a softer communication style or personal touch is more effective with this generational cohort.1,2 Cordeniz states this is accomplished with phrases such as, I would appreciate it if you would do this for me”or Id love it if youd. . . .” 9 Group meetings where open discussions are encouraged are also strong motivators with this generation.
As stated previously, teamwork is highly valued by the Baby Boomers and, as shown from their earlier days of peaceful demonstrations, they believe as a team, anything is possible.9 Promoting teamwork is essential for this generation in the RS workplace whether the teamwork involves direct patient care, conflict resolutions, or even planning of social events.
Generation X
Generation X is comprised of those individuals born between 1965 and 1980. This generation experienced a totally different childhood from the previous 2 generations. Many members of Generation X were brought up in families where both parents worked outside the home forcing this generational cohort to be raised as the first latchkey generation.Divorce rates also climbed during this period and resulted in 40% of this generation growing up in single parent households.2,9 Because of the family insecurity experienced growing up, members of this cohort often turn to friends for support, appreciate being mentored, and value stable family units.3
According to Cordeniz, having grown up in or interacting with non-traditional families, Generation Xers are comfortable with alternative lifestyles and behaviors including relationships, sexual orientation, gender roles, and political affiliations.9 Cordeniz also states that because there are far fewer Generation Xers than Baby Boomers, the competitiveness that is displayed by Baby Boomers is not nearly as prevalent in Generation Xers.9 During their educational years, the theories and techniques of teaching were based on team learning with focus on developing the whole” student versus individual competition with emphases on particular subjects or activities. This focus on team based learning also influenced the lack of competitiveness in members of the Generation X cohort as compared to the Baby Boomer generation.
Generation X grew up during times that harbored major technology achievements including MTV, home video systems, VCRs, microwaves, and cell phones. Consequently, technology is tightly intertwined in this generations everyday life and has resulted in Generation X being accustomed to and expecting immediate access of information as well as feedback for their actions.2,3,6
Generation X was raised during a period of increased crime along with economic decline. Having witnessed events such as the Iranian hostage crisis, the Challenger disaster, Japans overtaking the US in the world market, bankruptcies, substantial numbers of corporate layoffs, and Wall Street scandals, this generational cohort has less trust and respect for authority figures than the previous generations.1 Also, because they witnessed massive corporate layoffs while growing up, Sherman states that this generational cohort does not possess the same amount of loyalty to the corporate culture as past generations and skepticism is often displayed within this generational cohort.4Generation X views employment not as a guarantee, but as a tentative agreement so long as both sides are receiving value.6
Rather than tying success and security to positions or titles, Generation X finds success and security through the development of marketable skills, which can be transferred from job to job, and participation in entrepreneurial adventures.1,8 Hill reports that Generation X is responsible for creating 80% of all new businesses in the US in the past 3 years.4
Motivators for Generation X
Motivation for this generation is whatever helps balance work, family, and social life. Freedom to plan and prioritize their own work schedule, having no or very few sudden changes in plans, paid time off, and having their own developmental plan with specific goals are considered much more appealing to Generation X than concrete items such as rewards, plaques, or reserved parking spaces.1 In an RS workplace, schedules vary depending on the setting. A clinical setting offers more of the typical Monday through Friday day shifts with no weekends, holidays, or on-call requirements.A hospital based setting offers more flexibility with days and hours worked but may require weekends, holidays, and on-call duties. Allowing flexibility in schedules through the trading of shifts and allowances in time-off for family business is a strong motivator for this generation.
Goal setting in an RS workplace is very important as well as following up on those goals. Giving this generational cohort opportunities to strengthen and further their skills is crucial.As stated earlier, Generation X relates success to their marketability of skills. Therefore, educational opportunities and life long learning is very motivating for this generation. Offering an array of challenging assignments or tasks with short timeframes for completion is one example of motivating Generation X as they strive to continually update their skills. Encouraging cross-training into other modalities, participation in professional affiliations, and offering tuition reimbursement are just a few of the ways to motivate members of Generation X.
Because this generation was raised in unstable and often changing family units, they long for coaches and mentors. Constructive and timely feedback is highly valued by this generation due to experiences while growing up. Also, through their experiences of receiving immediate feedback due to the technology they grew up with, Generation X expects constructive and timely feedback which they utilize to further develop their marketable skills.1 Giving individual time to members of this generation such as regularly scheduled meetings and evaluations, and using a direct communication style is preferred as well as using technology to communicate everyday issues.9 Jefferies and Hunte also state that providing up to date technology is a good motivator as it allows this technologically savvy generation to be more efficient in the workplace thus allowing them more time for personal interests.1
Generation Y
Generation Y, individuals born between 1980 and 2000, is the second largest generational cohort behind the Baby Boomer generation. They represent 30% of the US population.4 This generation is also known as the Millennial generation and the Net generation.4,10 As noted by Weston, this generation was raised with similar beliefs and attitudes as the Baby Boomer generation with the primary focus on family values and protectiveness.6 Like its previous generation, Generation Y grew up in households with both parents working. However, structured programs such as daycare, preschool, and before and after school care, became very prominent. Not only did this influence the major decline of what is known as the latchkey child of the Generation X cohort, but offered safety, security, and structure for the young Generation Yers.
Generation Y is the most diverse generation in history, as they have grown up in a multicultural, multiethnic, highly technologically literate, and continually connected world.6,11 Cell phones, computers, and the Internet are all considered daily essentials to this technologically advanced generation for information, entertainment, and contacts. According to Hill, email or the Internet is more often used than the telephone, and Eisner reports that members of Generation Y spend more than 6 hours a day online.4,11
Through mass media and globalization, Generation Y grew up being exposed to more national and worldly information than any other generation. Immersion into events such as the bombing of the federal building in Oklahoma City, the shootings at Columbine High School in Colorado, and the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, according to Eisner, has helped develop this generations tendency to . . . have a strong sense of morality, to be patriotic,willing to fight for freedom, is sociable, and values home and family.”11 Although these attitudes, reflected by Generation Y, parallel the Veteran generations, the influence of this generation on the business world and society parallel the Baby Boomers just from its sheer size.
Because of the diversity and globalization Generation Y has grown up with, they tend to be very collaborative and inclusive as well as civic and openminded.11 However, Sherman notes that they expect more coaching and mentoring than Generation X, and will leave their workplace more readily than Generation X if they feel their needs or expectations are not properly met.2
Motivators for Generation Y
Members of this newest generation in the workforce are definitely assets to the technologically evolving field of RS. Being involved, connected, and respected is important to members of this generation
because of their collaborative and social style. Generation Yers are motivated by working with others who share the same commitment level and values and Generation Yers want to be involved with decision making in the department.11 Several ways to involve members of this generation in the departments functions and inspire them are to encourage and allow them to participate on committees, be active in the planning of departmental activities, or communicate departmental concerns or issues with other areas of the hospital or clinic. Generation Yers need a sense of belonging and feel they are making a meaningful difference.
Members of this generation tend to value accomplishments and ability more than positions or titles. Therefore, if given a choice, they would choose more meaningful work where they are appreciated over money.11 It is no surprise that perks designed to help members of this generation strengthen their skills and provide a meaningful service are much more effective than material perks. A strong motivator for Generation Yers is to have members of this generational cohort filling or assisting with a facilitys IT positions. Also, allowing this generation to help mentor others in technical areas challenges them, allows them to work collaboratively as a team, and gives them a feeling of belonging.2,11 Helping with choosing, implementing, and training for new digital systems and programs such as PACS is a wonderful way to inspire and challenge this technologically savvy generation.
Because of their life long technology experience, Generation Y expects immediate feedback and gratification. As stated by Carlson, members of Generation Y are intelligent but impatient and, immersed in a world of information, Generation Yers have adapted to multitasking.10 As reported by Eisner, Generation Y, through multitasking, has been found to fill 31 hours of media within a 24 hour timeframe.11 Informal, frequent, and brief communication through email or chat rooms is the best way to relay information quickly and effectively to this generation.2
Understanding and accommodating generational differences in terms of motivation is critical in maximizing each employees individual talents and generational needs. When motivators are not motivating, the entire department suffers. As much as possible, being flexible and accommodating when it comes to motivating different generations enables individuals from each generation to feel important, respected, and understood.4 A multigenerational team in an RS workplace offers rewards for both the department as well as the patients. As Hill states, the department is rewarded with wisdom, field and organizational history, clinical experience, and new insights into effective use of technology while patients profit from the best possible outcomes of a motivated, higher performing team.
1Jeffries FL,Hunte TL. Generations and motivations: a connection worth making. Journal of Behavioral and Applied Management. 2004; 6(1):2770.
2Sherman RO. Leading a multigenerational nursing workforce: issues, challenges and strategies. Online Journal of Issues in Nursing. 2006;11(2). Available at: http://www. Accessed March 14, 2007.
3Smola KW, Sutton CD. Generational differences: Revisiting generational work values for the new millennium. Journal of Organizational Behavior. 2002; 23:363382.
4Hill KS. Defy the decades with multigenerational teams: learn what motivates veteran, baby boomer, generation X, and generation Y employees. Nursing Management. 2004; 35(1):3235.
5Kupperschmidt BR.Addressing multigenerational conflict: mutual respect and carefronting as strategy. Online Journal of Issues in Nursing. 2006;11(2).Available at: http:// htm.Accessed March 14, 2007.
6Weston MJ. Integrating generational perspectives in nursing. Online Journal of Issues in Nursing.2006;11(2).Available at: http://www. Accessed March 14, 2007.
7Leschinsky RM,Michael JH.Motivators and desired company values of wood products industry employees: investigating generational differences. Forest Products Journal. 2004; 54(1):3439.
8Davis JB, Pawlowski SD, Houston A. Work commitments of baby boomers and genxers in the IT profession: generational differences or myth? Journal of Computer Information Systems. 2006; 46(3):4349.
9Cordeniz JA. Recruitment, retention, and management of Generation X: a focus on nursing professionals. Journal of Healthcare Management. 2002; 47:237249.
10Carlson S. The net generation in the classroom.Chronicle of Higher Learning. 2005; 52(7):3437.
11Eisner SP. Managing generation Y. SAMAdvanced Management Journal. 2005; 70(4):415.
*Editors note: This article is the third place winner in the 2008 Radiology Management writing contest.
Traci Kalar BS,RT(R) is the operations manager ata Albemarle Hospital in Elizabeth City, NC. She is currently working on her masters degree from Midwestern State University and may be contacted

Motivation in a Multigenerational Radiologic Science Workplace

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