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Motivating Millennials

Keeping the alliteration going.

Following on from our Managing Millennials article several weeks ago, we’ve been asked “how do you motivate them?”

There’s plenty of research to suggest that Millennials do indeed share some core characteristics to previous generations in terms of their work place needs, which is good news – you don’t need to completely re-write your competency framework to accommodate them.

But there are some important distinctions you should be aware of when managing this ever-growing part of your workforce.

A 2015 Gallup Poll found that Millennials are the least engaged cohort in the workplace, with only 28.9% saying that they are engaged at work.

This a real shame because a further study has found Millennials want to learn and develop their skills more so than any previous generation. They are eager to lead and are ambitious.  But how do we harness this ambition?  Let’s explore four of the possibilities…

Your company’s vision must be socially compelling.

According to research by the Center for Generational Kinetics and Barnum Financial Group, 60% of Millennials said a sense of purpose is part of the reason they chose to work at their current employer.

This means that your employer branding is more important than ever.  You may not be able to influence your organisation’s mission statement or the colour of the website.  But you can tweak your job descriptions, career pages and assessment centres to highlight the potential connection between a job role and its meaningful impact elsewhere.

 

My career will be one of choice, not one chosen out of desperation. It will align who I am with what I do.

- Male graduate employee, USA


Communicate.  Openly and frequently.

Millennials enter the workplace accustomed and eager to both give and receive feedback on everything, regularly.  In fact, one study reported that 42% of Millennials want feedback every week—more than twice the percentage of every other generation.

This will place a great deal of strain on your existing managers, do they have the skills and the confidence to have these honest and responsible conversations regularly?  The number one reason for millennial turnover is that their managers don’t.

Embrace technology.  They have.

Millennials are likely to be the most technologically advanced age group in your workforce.  And they will have acquired this training at no cost to your organisation (which comes with its own pros and cons).  But they are skilled multi-taskers and move from smart phone to laptop to tablet to television an average of 27 times an hour.

They were first to experience a wireless, connected world, and according to a PwC report, they “expect the technologies that empower their personal lives to also drive communication and innovation in the workplace.”

Encourage a culture of trust, autonomy and creativity.

Millennials are looking for employers and direct line managers who have created environments of creative freedom and give them the flexibility to make decisions and find their own path to success.

It is true that millennials move from job to job, not because they are aimless or disloyal – but because they are impatient with systems that stifle their ability to innovate, be empowered and ultimately stay happy.

 

[Millennials] expect to work in communities of mutual interest and passion – not structured hierarchies.

- Vineet Nayar, CEO of HCL Technologies Ltd

We’ll look further at why millennials want what they want, and how you might be able to deliver it to them in the following weeks, so stay tuned!  In the meantime, we highly recommend these additional sources – particularly the PWC research as it should form the basis for any stakeholder conversations in your business about managing and motivating millennials.