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Generational Differences in Regards to Feedback and Rewards

Yolanda Griffiths, OTD, OTR/L, FAOTA

July 15, 2015



Are there generational differences in regards to what a person/patient would like in feedback and rewards?  


GI Generation (1925-1945).  In the GI generation, if you were pulled in the office of your boss, it was probably because you did something wrong.  The GI generation believes that “No news is good news.”  This is a generation that was brought up through wars.  If you did not hear from someone at the warfront, that was a good thing.  It meant they were alive.  If information was sent to you through a telegram, it might be bad news.  This is the generation that likes to hear that they have done a good job, but they are more intrinsically rewarded.  If they have put in the time, they know they have done a good job. 

Boomers (1946-1964). Boomers are looking for tangible rewards.  A hallmark of a Boomer is having every diploma and CE certificate displayed on their wall.  They want to be recognized when they have done something.  They like verbal or written feedback, but they want it scheduled so they can tell when they are going to get their feedback. 

Gen X (1965-1979).  Gen-Xers think freedom is the best reward.  They want flexibility and immediate formative feedback about their performance.  It might be the person spontaneously asking you as you walk down the hall for feedback.  If not good, how can I fix it?  This generation has access to lots of information; therefore, they want the information when they ask for it. 

Gen Y or Millennials (1980-1994).  With Generation Y, work has to be personally meaningful.  Feedback should be at their fingertips.  I call this a drive-thru evaluation.  I have had fieldwork students in Gen-Y and they say, “Why do we have to wait until mid-term?  Why can't you tell me now?”  They want the feedback when it is meaningful to them so they can make the appropriate behavior changes.

yolanda griffiths

Yolanda Griffiths, OTD, OTR/L, FAOTA

Yolanda Griffiths is an associate professor of occupational therapy and program director at College of Saint Mary in Omaha, NE.  Yolanda graduated with a BSOT from the University of Puget Sound, an MHR with an emphasis in counseling from the University of Oklahoma, and an OTD from Creighton University.  She also has a certificate as an advanced master practitioner in neurolinguistic programming and has been an efellow in computer technology and higher education.  Yolanda has primarily worked in the area of mental health since 1977 and began her career in academia in 1992.  Her scholarship interests include the scholarship of teaching and learning, distance learning, and generational learning styles.  Dr. Griffiths is the Internet Editor of the peer reviewed journal, Occupational Therapy in Health Care and is the co-author of a book titled, A Professional Legacy which focuses on the Eleanor Clarke Slagle lecturers.  She has had many volunteer leader roles in AOTA including chairperson of the Education Special Interest Section and member of the Commission on Education.  Dr. Griffiths has presented internationally, nationally, and regionally on subjects such as the use of reflection, active learning and occupational therapy education.

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