How Can Incentive Travel Motivate Generation X?

by: Luke Kreitner May 2, 2016

In our ongoing series of articles on incentive group travel and the generation mix, we’re attempting to shed light on how each generation finds value and motivation in travel incentives. Insights on generational differences can hopefully help leaders and corporate incentive travel planners—who must deal with managing diverse age groups—understand how each generation views corporate and incentive travel. These pieces, which began last quarter with a Millennials article, help guide leaders in using travel incentives to inspire better performance and reach sales goals.

How Can Incentive Travel Motivate Generation X

In this quarter’s article, we’ll discuss the quiet, oft-forgotten middle child of today’s workforce: Generation X.

Stereotypical Generation Xers are cynics and loners, slackers in flannel who love apathetic alternative rock. Even the title of their age group—Generation X—suggests something negative, crossed out or rejected. According to an Incentive Research Foundation (IRF) study on generations in the workplace, “Xers weren’t told they could do or be anything they wanted, at least to the extent Boomers and Millennials were. They saw their parents less because, in many cases, their parents were hard-charging Boomers working long hours to make a difference and get ahead.”

 

These things seem to cast the common Gen Xer in a grim light, but disillusionment taught many from this generation to be resourceful, greatly valuing skill and personal success over corporate platitudes and office politics. An Ebscohost release describes Generation X’s high points as being “self-reliant, resourceful, and comfortable on their own. In the workplace, Gen Xers are independent, technologically savvy, and strong multi-taskers.”

It’s easy to understand why communicative and culturally aware generations like Millennials and Baby Boomers would be extremely motivated by incentive travel. But what angle should you use to get Generation X fired up about travel incentives? Here are a few ideas:

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Team Incentive Plans

The depiction of office watercooler small-talk as uncool began with Generation X. Workers from this generation are often cynical about mingling with colleagues and getting too wrapped up in the corporate world. Nineties films like Reality Bites and Office Space feature the corporate disillusionment strongly associated with Gen X. This attitude may make them reluctant to participate in corporate culture or build work relationships.

Corporate events and group travel opportunities can help Gen Xers break out of their “lone wolf” approach. Group travel incentive trip can offer Gen Xers a great opportunity to have meaningful, interesting interactions with their colleagues, rather than feeling that they’re immersed in corporate routines.

Likely more than any other generation, Gen Xers want to get to know their co-workers on their own terms, not as part of their business obligations. This is why group incentive travel and team building corporate events can open up so many possibilities for growth in their roles.

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Skill-Set Development on Incentive Trips

As IRF notes, “Xers were the first generation to understand that their fate is in their own hands—that employers cannot be trusted or counted on. Many experts agree that Xers…value highly their own sense of mastery and competency.” Expanding on that thought, a Time article says that Gen Xers “are known for keeping their heads down and assuming their work speaks for itself.”
Gen Xers are less likely than other generations to be impressed with titles, certificates or public tenure recognition at the next company meeting. What Gen Xers do care about are opportunities to develop new skills on their own. This means that Gen Xers can be greatly motivated by incentive trips and corporate events in which they can learn from successful public speakers, take work education courses, develop hands-on experience and network with industry leaders. Seminars or conferences in which they can add more knowledge or competencies to their resumes and gain new insights are especially appealing to Gen X, who are more skill- and talent-focused than any other generation.


Rewards and Recognition for Achievements

According to a Business Insider article, “[Generation X] were hit hardest by the recession, losing half of their wealth from 2007 to 2010.” Like Millennials, Gen Xers are prone to feeling insecure about their jobs, which leads to a lack of company loyalty and trust. Perhaps more than any other generation, it is important to invest in Generation X employees and business affiliates to show them they are appreciated, that their skills are acknowledged and vital in your organization.

 

Incentive trips are very public, very memorable demonstrations that you are willing to spend time and resources on your highest achievers. When a top-performing Gen X salesperson earns a spot on an incentive travel trip to Hawaii, for instance, they’re much less likely to feel that their efforts and talents go wasted and unnoticed. Using fun, eventful travel incentives to show that your company culture is one of recognizing skilled workers can earn the respect and company loyalty of a Generation Xer.

As Generation X ages into positions of seniority and leadership, it’s important to motivate and retain them. They often work quietly and without a lot of fanfare, so that you may not even realize how much your company will suffer if they leave. Make sure you’re not focusing your corporate incentive travel promotion efforts only on the preferences of the larger generational groups, Millennials and Baby Boomers. Generation Xers can be incredibly motivated by travel reward programs, too, if you present them in a way that appeals to their work styles and needs.

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