Motivating Millennials -What do they Really Want

omqi3%2fraw_profile_logo_by Margaret Wood Oct 19,2016

Millennials are truly an enigma! Motivating Millennials is the ultimate challenge. To give a perfect example, when polled by the NY Times recently, Millennials voted cereal for breakfast to be an “inconvenient” food.  Why?  “…because they had to clean up afterwards…” While this may seem trivial to some, the message here is clear: this generation won’t be bothered with the mundane. So, what do Millennials really want…?

Millennials-The connectedMillennials make up the largest portion of the working class in the US workforce-motivating Millennials is on its way to becoming a science. Their  confidence, ambition, and tech-savvy put them at high demand and they basically are writing their own ticket when it comes to salaries -no other generation has ever experienced this phenomenon. The competition is fierce among Millennials.

However, there are some shared characteristics that Millennials display in the workforce that is nagging. First, there appears to be a much higher level of disengagement and staff turnover. When surveyed, among the top 3  categories that motivate  Millennials are higher wages, opportunity and recognition, not necessarily in that order. Transience and  job hopping are non-issues for Millennials–yet it is creating havoc for employers and costing them a fortune in rehiring and training, not to mention the decrease in productivity, knowledge loss, and the costs of recruiting.

How do you Stack Up?

In reality, Millennials seek the same thing as other employees: better compensation, recognition, transparency and opportunities to be recognized. Like generations before, today’s Millennials are motivated by growth and innovation; they are seeking ways to progress quickly. Because they are infinitely more multicultural than generations past and extremely adept at multitasking, they are driven by diverse work activity and experiences.

Motivate Millennials by  keeping job roles clear, identifying and offering opportunities for growth and creative expression; provide opportunities that build and stretch their abilities. These provide the purpose, meaning, recognition, and autonomy they seek.

Not Easily Impressed

For Millennials, connective technology, the internet, the web, and smartphones have pretty much always been around. None of that impresses them. The biggest reaction is a shoulder shrug. Meanwhile, Baby Boomers can still recall when microwaves first came out, costing $1100-$1200 dollars and could sink a boat! However, what still seems new in the digital world to Baby Boomers is “how it’s always been” for Millennials.

The importance of Mentoring 
If you are truly engaged in motivating Millennials, start by mentoring.   This will benefit twofold and more. Provide honest feedback at regular intervals; this will ultimately help the company gain a long-term, inspired, and profitable employee. Mentoring programs have demonstrated the ability to save the company thousands, retention goes up both for the prodigy and and their mentors.

Not about the Money

Some of the topmost priorities for twenty-somethings is doing what they love, job satisfaction and good benefits, in that order. Money is not their 1st or 2nd priority.

One of the best, proven means to motivating Millennials is building an organization that communicates their priorities clearly, as well as their vital outcomes-one that is goal-driven.  That is your key to success!

Millennials look down on bureaucracy.By effectively creating an organization that focuses on goals and outcomes, you create a transparency that allows teams to view and engage in each other’s priorities, and focus on your missions by helping each other get the job done.

Giving the Right Feedback.

Without the right feedback, Millennials will view their work as insignificant and irrelevant, resulting in disengaged and departing employees. Great leadership will provide constructive feedback to employees on their work, both randomly and at scheduled intervals. No one likes to work in a void; Millennials want direct feedback.

  • Recognize exceptional work
  • Have one-on-one conversations
  • Set up team building exercises
  • Be transparent about how employee’s work affects the company’s future
  • Keep your team informed on company goals
  • Have the tough conversations that come along with management

To summarize, if you invest in developing talented Millennials, you are investing in the future. Their digital transparency skills are phenomenal assets for growing and global companies. Although they are fundamentally different than previous generations- they are unique,  with unique experiences. Given the right settings, they are as motivated and willing to achieve success as generations past.


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