How to Motivate Millennials in the Workplace

Millennials are the least engaged age—group in the workplace. This is according to a 2014 Gallup poll. The poll found that only 28.9% of Gen Y’ers could be described as “engaged.” For employers, this should be a worry because millennials are becoming dominant in the workplace.

Unfortunately, common stereotypes don’t cast millennials in the most positive light. Typically, they are cast as “lazy, opinionated, narcissistic and difficult to motivate.” Whether such descriptions are accurate is a matter of opinion.

However, every employer will eventually have to figure out how to motivate millennials. After all, Deloitte estimates that millennials will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025. Having such a large portion of employees disengaged or demotivated is suicidal.

The ultimate question is: “what strategies can be used to motivate millennials at the workplace?” Well, basing on their unique characteristics of their age—group, here are helpful tips for motivating a millennial workforce.

Explain the Big Picture

Millennials don’t just take on any task without question. They first ask why. To a Gen Xer or Baby Boomer, such an attitude is irritating. They wonder where millennials get the nerve to ask their bosses “why”?

However, such questions aren’t asked in bad faith. Millennial workers simply want their work to mean something. As such, they want to understand the big picture. Therefore, a good strategy for motivating them is to explain the big picture.

If millennials buy into the big picture, then their drive is boundless. They become excited, passionate, hard—working and energetic. As such, getting a millennial workforce to understand the bigger picture is the best strategy for motivating them.

Leverage Their Technological Savvy

Millennials came of age at a time of rapid technological advancement. More than any other generation, they consider tech as cool. They are also tech savvy – and are plugged in almost all day. As such, anything techy excites them.

To a manager, this presents an opportunity. Tech is a good way to engage, excite and motivate millennials. It is a matter of figuring out how to tap into this their technological know—how. In most cases, this doesn’t just get them motivated, it can also make them more productive.

Offer Workplace Flexibility

For millennials, work—life balance isn’t some distant pipe—dream. It is a reality. What’s more, they expect their employers to provide it. Unlike previous generations which were content to find the balance on their own, the Gen Y demands it from their employers.

This means that they don’t expect to spend the best moments of their lives at work. They demand time for their friends, families and hobbies. If an employer doesn’t provide the extra time, they will simply quit.

A good way to provide such a balance is through workplace flexibility. Offering flexible schedules is a great motivator for millennials. Rather than demanding that they work from 8 to 5, offer them an opportunity to leave early if they complete their tasks. They will work like crazy.

Another way to motivate them is through offering opportunities for telecommuting. When millennials can work remotely, they absolutely love it. A good way to motivate them is to offer opportunities to work remotely as a perk for great performance.

Offer Opportunities for Growth and Development

Millennials are driven towards sharpening their skills. More than any other generation, millennials want to get better! As such, a great way to motivate them is to tap into this desire. There are two ways to accomplish this.

The first is to offer opportunities for mentorship. Millennials love to learn from the best. As such, if there are senior workers who are skilled, they can be assigned to mentor millennials. This can provide an opportunity for the seniors to pass on their knowledge, skills and experience.

The second is through offering opportunities for skills development training. Given that millennials are tech savvy, a simple way to provide such training is through Learning Management Systems ( LMS ).

The best part about offering growth and development is that it doesn’t just motivate the millennials. The organization also benefits from having better skilled employees who can ultimately become more productive.

Rethink Incentives &Perks

For the Baby Boomers and Generation X, promises of promotions, impressive titles and money were great motivators. As such, they were effective as incentives and perks. For millennials, such things aren’t that motivating.

The reason is that millennials value different things. For starters, they prefer instant gratification. As such, promises of future rewards don’t motivate them much. Secondly, instead of money or titles, they prefer freedom, work—life balance, opportunities for growth and maybe the latest cool devices.

The bottom line is that millennials are moved by different incentives and perks. Therefore when designing an incentive structure for millennial workers, it is important to take such things into consideration.

Ultimately, although millennials can seem difficult to manage, getting them motivated isn’t rocket science. It is a matter of understanding what excites, engages and motivates them. The above tips can be used by any manager (especially a Gen X or Baby Boomer) who looking for ways to motivate their millennial workforce.

Gallup (January 28th, 2015) – Majority of U.S. Employees Not Engaged Despite Gains in 2014
Deloitte (January, 2014) – The Deloitte Millennial Survey

Brett McIntyre, Digital Marketing Director

Brett is the digital marketing director at , a NAPBS Accredited Pre-Employment background check company. For more information about pre-employment news or information, please visit our blog.

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