Employee Motivation, the Millennial Way

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The millennials are coming. Or rather, they were already here. Years ago.

Millennials make up 35% of the UK workforce – and that’s set to rise to 50% globally by 2020. Are you thinking about employee motivation programmes at your company to engage not just millennials, but follow-on generations too? Starting with this new powerhouse demographic only makes sense.

After all, employee motivation is a hot topic. Recruitment is hard work. Sussing out the right incentives and motivators for your team is crucial. And as research shows that employee engagement is declining in the UK, business leaders are right to pay attention.

Who are the millennials? They’re born between the mid-1980s and 2000. In Norway, they’re called ‘Generation Serious’. And in Japan, nagara–zoku – ‘the people who are always doing two things at once’. Stereotypes aside, there are a few common trends that different studies have confirmed.

Here are the factors you should be considering.

Transparency first

Think about the huge amount of information available online. And that word travels fast. There’s LinkedIn, there’s Glassdoor… Word of mouth on a massive scale before they’ve even signed a contract. Millennials are used to having access to data and are likely to bring that expectation to work with them. Make time to share the bigger picture. Meet reasonable expectations for transparency. With optimism and trust shaken by political factors, it’s more crucial now than ever in order to foster motivation and loyalty.

Man walking in front of "GOOD" graffiti

Valued business

As consumers, 70% of millennials are willing to spend more with brands that support causes they care about. Why would they feel any less committed when they come to work? Be clear about your company values. Help employees discover links to their own and boost retention and motivation. And don’t forget that your clients and candidates are increasingly likely to feel the same way.

Building on transparency first, sites like Glassdoor reveal a lot about the best places to work. Who's the best CEO to work for? Who has the best culture? What are other employees saying? Do they show genuine care for their greater community, if not the world? Ask yourself – what would your team say about your company?

‘If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.’

Not a phrase that’s likely to resonate with millennial employees. They're well known as the world’s first 'digital natives'. So tracking targets via elderly whiteboards and myriad spreadsheets is unlikely to appeal. Take advantage of new digital possibilities. It could be a social network for the office or a more integrated performance datafeed.

Your team will appreciate having access to better and more updated data. Not to mention that it’s a great opportunity for your next sales contest. Automated platforms can support good practice amongst managers. Take time to discuss how technology can facilitate meaningful conversations, not replace them.

Don’t get too hung up on numbers though. Share that enthusiastic client ‘thank you’ note and show the difference good customer service makes. Praise is an essential building block of a great workplace, valued by all generations.

Moving on

It’s true: millennials switch jobs more often than older generations. And no wonder, those student loans aren’t going to pay themselves. In other words, progression matters.

So what can you do if a promotion isn’t an option? Think laterally. Which stretch assignment can help your team develop new skills? Or online learning? Training and development doesn’t have to be limited to offsite courses. Maybe you have a team member who would appreciate a mentor, or a colleague who would like to work on their coaching skills.

This might all sound like hard work, but there are lots of benefits to boosting employee motivation. Better retention, increased productivity, more continuity for clients, more fun at work. Not to mention improved customer service.

If you’re planning on bringing in new systems, make sure you plan your communication. And keep an eye on how to measure the impact of new systems. Either that, or keep a well-stocked snack table.

Ready for Generation Z?

Photo by Annie Spratt and Volkan Olmez on Unsplash