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6 Top Tips for Motivating Millennials 


Millennials, the youngest generation of workers, born roughly between the mid-1970s and 2000, are entering the workforce in droves. This generation will come to dominate the work for force in both number and attitude, and in the process reshape the work experience that all employees will come to have. What's important to the generation, and how can employers best happened to the potential they have to offer at work? Given that 75% of this generation say they plan to find a new job as the economy continues to improve, it is worth taking a closer look at how best to track motivate and retain them in your organization today.

Motivating the Millennial's

The keys to motivating this generation can be found in harnessing these aspects of the work relationship. Managerial time, Work Direction, Personal Development, Social Interaction, Feedback and Praise, and Meaningful Rewards.

Managerial Time – In studies of young generation, one of the consistently most motivating variables was time with one's manager. Managers need to make special efforts both to be available and to actually connect with young workers on a more frequent basis of work. An example of this could be managers having one-on-one discussions with their direct reports at least once every two weeks in which employees set the agenda of questions they need answered, items they want to discuss, or advice they need from their managers.

Work Direction – Millennial's want and expect to be constantly excited about how they are spending their time at work. They are consummate multi-taskers, very capable of managing the multitude of activities at once. Easily bored they want and need to be challenged, which is a blessing for managers who want to take advantage of their energy, skills, resourcefulness.

Provide clear work expectations, but allow Millennial's to bring their own imprint to their jobs. Show them the "big picture" as to how their jobs relate to the mission, strategic objectives, and core values of the organization. Ask for and use their ideas as much is possible or encourage them to pursue their own ideas when those have merit. This generation is very socially conscious, so linking them as directly as possible to the mission of your organization would have strong impact; likewise for volunteering.

Personal Development – Millennial's expect constant learning and personal development and growth, and the manager can easily serve as a coach and mentor to them. Talk in terms of "development opportunities" and in long-term time frames that exceed any given task or assignment. If you shape the context for your relationship with Millennials as extending years into the future in regard to how you will help them grow and gain experience, there will be more likely not to look to change jobs at the first sign of frustration or disappointment. 

Millennials' managers need to take the time to help coach Millennial employees and in the process show them how they can make a positive, meaningful impact of work. Redefine the timeframe for this generation's focus and show them how the things they are doing now can lead to things they want to do be doing later. Talk with them about their interests in the ways they can apply their skills; talk about career paths and the needs of the organization; discuss opportunities that they can pursue, and help them prepare to meet future opportunities.

Social Interaction – Millennial's are very social perhaps more peer group oriented than previous generations. Most of their upbringing, and educational experiences were in groups, as was the bulk of their social experience, be at playing interactive video games, group sports or connecting on social media with friends. Use these generational preferences to your advantage by allowing them to work together on projects and assignments and set up frequent non-work social situations such as teambuilding activities and celebrations. If they tend to work best with others, and the way they get into a project is to talk it through with coworkers – great let them do that. Make clear what you need the end result to be, but let them bring the imprint of who they are to the task so they can be excited about the work and even have fun getting it done. You may not need your job to be fun to get it done, but don't fault them if that's their preference.

Feedback and Praise - One of the most defining characteristics of this generation is a significant need for constant praise at work. This can be frustrating for other generations to understand and easy to dismiss as being a symptom of a generation's parents spoil them, showering them with constant praise and protecting them from of any harsh realities of life.

Consider this perspective – the Millennials have learned that in times of change one needs a constant source of feedback to be on the mark and to adjust their performance accordingly. Since job requirements and expectations are constantly in flux, yesterday's feedback may no longer be relevant today. Constant feedback, thus, is not to pump up a frail ego as much as to assure employees that they are on track to continue to do good work day after day for their employer. Feedback and praise serve as reinforcement as well as a corrective mechanism for this generation.

Provide frequent feedback based on the performance of Millennials, which might be a new perspective for many of them who grew up getting trophies even when their team lost or all As a result of rampant grade inflation in schools. Provide a context for how their contributions relate to team and organizational goals, to the organization's customers, and even to society. This systematic framing of feedback and praise takes it from being unearned hype to a practical information stream that can help shape desired behaviours and results you need from them. Above all else, be authentic, providing direct and honest feedback and evaluations that can best help the the Millennial to excel - and to trust you, his or her manager, all the more in the process.

Meaningful Rewards – Millennials want rewards that are meaningful and exciting to them when they have done good work for an outstanding job. This includes financial incentives, and, of course everyone wants to make more money not just a Millennials. Millennials, however, may have the least realistic expectations as to what is needed to earn more money, and this is where you can help. 

When this generation is acknowledged for doing good work, they have expectations that the reward experience will be fun and exciting, not the same old boring thing the company is done for years. They increasingly expect rewards that are creative, varied and personalized. 

Creative in that the rewards are fun and unique - not the same certificate, plaque, or trophy that has been passed to the employees for years. 

Varied in that the employee has a choice and a say in what they can get when they are rewarded for doing a good job. The days of one size fitting all are long gone when it comes to employee motivation. What thrills and delights one employee may be boring and insulting. Avoid this problem by allowing employees to choose what best motivates them - be it the latest electronic merchandise, an experience, or charity donation - when they have the opportunity to be thanked for having done a great job.

Personalized in that the reward needs to be tailored to their unique interests, which can be a hobby, travel, or life experience.


For more great employee recognition tips and strategies, make sure to watch our high impact "Employee Engagement Solutions" Webinar with New York Times Best Selling Author Dr. Bob Nelson - click here


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