What employers need to know about motivating millennials and how to keep them
The millennial generation, broadly represented by a workforce aged between 18 and 34, will shape the world of work for years to come. Their career aspirations, attitudes to work and knowledge of new technologies will define the culture of the 21st Century workplace. Attracting and retaining the best of them is critical to the future of any business.
Millennials are and will continue to be a powerful generation of workers. Those with the right skills will be in high demand. They may be able to command not only creative reward packages by today’s standards but also influence the way they work and how they operate in the workplace. In terms of retention and management, they may also represent one of the biggest challenges many organisations will face.
Their particular characteristics – their ambition, their desire to keep learning and make quick progress as well as their reluctance to put up with a situation they’re not happy in – requires a considered, focused approach from employers. Rigid corporate structures and a silo mentality won’t wash. In other words, they want a management style and corporate culture that is markedly different from anything that has gone before – one that meets their needs.
Bridging the generation gap
Millennials are generally speaking well educated, self-confident, able to multi-task and full of positive energy. They have high expectations of themselves, prefer to work in teams and use more technology. They seek and embrace challenges and, as a number one priority, are committed to their personal learning and development. They also want flexible working hours to help them achieve the all-important work/life balance that has eluded the generations before them. Cash incentives and bonuses matter to them less than any of the above, although high salaries are important.
Never before has the role of the manager been more important in engaging and motivating a young workforce. Our recent survery revealed that a significantly higher proportion of millennials than any other age group appreciates the efforts their manager makes to engage with them at work and the one-on-one time they spend with them to talk through priorities and targets.
So with the expectations of their employment experience being so drastically different, what is it that managers need to do to keep millennials motivated enough to do their best and stick around?
1) Solid leadership
Younger workers are defined by their optimism and energy. As their manager, it’s vital that you’re approachable and positive. This is about more than just an open-door policy; engage directly with each member of your team as often as possible.
Create and maintain an environment of trust, transparency and autonomy. While our survey shows clearly that millennials need their manager’s attention to help them feel motivated and engaged, it’s important not to micromanage them. They’re looking for coaching and mentorship rather than management, and they expect that you will draw out and respect their ideas. Give them the flexibility to perform in a way that optimises their skills and allows them the space to get the job done on their own terms.
Most millennials are intensely ambitious and are looking for rapid career progression. Constructive support with target setting and clear career development programmes will increase motivation and retention. Provide access to different opportunities within the organisation so they don’t feel hemmed in or restricted.
Give frequent freedback, both good and bad, but always constructive. The younger workforce may crave freedom but they also want to know how they are performing – as often and as enthusiastically as possible. They want “in” on the whole company picture and reassurance that they are trusted and valued; empower them, respect them and give them the guidance they need.
2) Recognition and reward – get their priorities right
A key factor in driving motivation among your young workforce is for them to be recognised and rewarded for their hard work and achievements. Our survey highlighted that millennials, more than any other age group, would welcome a reward and recognition scheme at work to give them a clear sense of purpose and direction.
So it’s important to make it clear to millennials what the “deal” is, what you are offering them but also what you expect in return. Think creatively about reward strategies and shift the focus from cash bonuses to other things.
Where possible, benefits should be personalised and customised to ensure they are as effective as they can be in motivating and engaging staff. A one-size-fits-all approach will no longer work so middle management should be tasked and empowered to manage employee engagement on a micro scale. And never give reward without recognition – there is no substitute for a being told you’ve done a great job.
3) The importance of culture
Millennials are used to cramming multiple activities into their lives and are expert multi-taskers. They play sport, have many different cultural interests and spend a lot of time with friends and family. They also have a social conscience, with many of them supporting causes they are passionate about in their spare time.
As a result, they want work and their place of work to be something they enjoy. It has to complement and meet the high expectations they have for their life outside of work. So flexibility around fitness classes, cycling to work schemes, healthy meal choices as well as financial support and education are all welcome incentives for the younger workforce, encouraging engagement and loyalty.
And while this type of employee-focused environment may seem like an indulgence, it’s good for business because engaged employees are more productive, making it a win-win for all concerned.
Andy Philpott is marketing and sales director at Edenred.
Visit https://www.massive-motivation.co.uk/ for more helpful tips on inspiring and rewarding your employees.
This article was supplied by Edenred.
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