With thanks to my friend and colleague Tricia Heywood for contributing this post, which was first published in Onesixtyfourth’s blog.

In an effort to learn more about how upcoming cultural shifts are impacting the workplace for a presentation of our trends to HR executives of a large multinational, we fielded a quick quantitative study.  In mid-April we asked 600 Millennials, Gen Xers and Boomers in the US about what employers can do, aside from pay rises and moving to a more convenient location, to better motivate them to work for them. Specifically, we asked our respondents to tell us what their employers could to do make work more exciting and to characterize their ‘ideal employer’.

Not surprisingly, all cohorts would like their current employers to offer more benefits. These include more affordable healthcare, better healthcare, including dental, etc. And, everyone wants more vacation, whether that is more vacation days, more flexible vacation time (Millennials) or paid vacation.

For Baby Boomers, benefits are by far the most important thing an employer can offer – whether it be their current employer or their ideal one.  And, possibly more so than we would expect given their age and stage in life, Boomers are seeking opportunities for personal and professional development. Other CultureQ research offers some potential insight into this: some Boomers have told us they recognize they need new skills to remain relevant and others have noted that they don’t intend on leaving the workplace for some time. These sit alongside those who note they are being forced to find ‘new’ careers for a variety of reasons.

What we found very interesting in our recent data was the subtle differences in the words the different generations chose to describe the characteristics they are looking for in an employer. For example, with respect to work culture and environment, Millennials most often, followed by Gen X, use words such as friendly, supportive and happy, while Boomers chose descriptors like positive, healthy, non-stressed, relaxed. And, when speaking about corporate reputation, Millennials more often cite leadership reputation whereas Gen Xers and Boomers tend to qualify the type of reputation with the word good.

This segues into our findings about the culture each generation expects in the workplace. Millennials desire an environment that is community based and offers cohesion, support and friendship. Perhaps due to technology enabling us, and often requiring us, to work 24/7 Millennials want the time spent working to be alongside friends in a supportive, enriching environment. More so than the other cohorts, they’re looking for employers to offer opportunities for social engagement and further believe an ideal employer should develop volunteer experiences, be value based and a reputation for leadership. By far, the corporate culture is their focus when it comes to an ideal employer.

Gen X is just as concerned as Millennials are about the work environment and culture of the company.  The data indicate however that Gen X is more likely to be excited by office perks – such as daycare, pets at work, discounts, massages, free food, gyms on site and wellness programs – than by social engagement or a supportive culture.  Boomers are motivated by a culture that acknowledges a job well done, co-workers who value their individual roles within the larger group and  a sense of accountability and pride in work well done.