How to Motivate Older Workers

By Kevin on August 21, 2015 in employee engagement, leadership

Hey, everyone. Kevin Kruse here. It’s actually a beautiful day. It’s a holiday here in the States, but I’m so far behind on answering emails, some questions that you’ve sent in, I figured I’d take some holiday time, throw my teenage daughter behind the camera, and answer some questions.

The first one I want to tackle right now is from James. He says,

“The majority of my team has been with the company for over 10 years. The senior team members have become very disengaged and complacent, which hurts overall morale. We’re a flat organization. There’s little opportunity for perceived growth. So, how do you continue to motivate them?”

This is a big challenge with more senior workers, more tenured workers. Either they’re already risen to the top of the organization, or, in a flat organization, a small organization, there’s not room for advancement.

The first thing you have to realize is activating that growth trigger, it’s not about actual promotions and raises and new titles. That can activate that trigger, but it’s more about having an internal sense that I’m working on interesting things, I’m learning, I’m growing on the inside.

Even if you’re in a flat organization, look for ways for people to learn. Is there a way for them to get coaching or mentoring from someone else? If they’re very strong themselves, perhaps they can learn coaching skills and mentor younger workers or other people. Perhaps there’s an annual conference they can go to and come back and teach others. Maybe there’s a book club. There’s always more that all of us can learn from. Even the best performers have coaches and are lifelong learners. Help them to pick topics where they can learn, whether it’s from books, outside conferences, or from each other.

But if you just can’t push that growth button on these individuals, remember growth is really one of the three ways to drive engagement. Recognition, we want to feel appreciated, and trust, we want to trust our leaders and trust that the future is bright … Those are other dials that you can turn up or buttons to activate. Do your best to help them to grow and develop, but if that’s not working, really turn up that appreciation dial and try to make sure they still feel that there’s a sense of a brighter future.

Depending on where you’re watching this video, I hope you’ll give it a thumbs up or like it on Facebook. Subscribe to the YouTube channel if that’s where you are. And if you have a question yourself, send it to Kevin at Thanks.

Kevin Kruse is the creator of the Leading for Employee Engagement eLearning program for managers and author of the bestselling book, Employee Engagement 2.0.

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