How to Motivate The Largest Generation in the Workplace: Millennials

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How to Motivate The Largest Generation in the Workplace: Millennials

Summary:  Lazy and entitled? Or tech savvy and progressive? How to leverage employee engagement software to create workplaces that motivate millennials.

As of 2015, millennials have officially taken over as the largest chunk of the workforce. Unless you recently stepped out of a smokey DeLorean straight from 1985, you’ll have noticed this shift brought considerable changes in the workplace. So, with baby boomers on their way out, gen Xers on their way up, gen z coming in hot, and millennials taking the biggest piece of the pie, how do employers evolve their work to satisfy the needs of this multigenerational melting pot?

Especially when one-third of millennials have confirmed they are disengaged at work.

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Motivational Forces Between the Generations:

Baby Boomers (b.1946-1964)

Baby Boomers are reaching retirement anywhere between 2011 and 2029, and tend to occupy most of the decision maker positions in upper management and executive roles. Baby boomers grew up during times of financial prosperity after the war but were raised by parents who lived through the great depression. They value hard work and long hours, face to face meetings and an emphasis on teamwork. They are achievement oriented, so milestones such as promotions and financial incentives are the perfect reward system for their efforts.

Generation X (b. 1956-1980)

GenX is characterized as being more independent and self-motivated, with a touch of skepticism toward authority. They lack the cozy financial blanket laid out for baby boomers and therefore are typically hard workers motivated by the need for financial security.

Generation Y/Millenials (b. 1981-1994)

They have been characterized everywhere from “Lazy, narcissistic and prone to jump from job to job”, to “the most educated and dedicated generation ever – that they will save the world from the mistakes their parents and grandparents made”. It’s been said that growing up with things like participation medals have led to unrealistic expectations for career advancement, regardless of performance. What most studies can agree on, however, is that they are far more entrepreneurial-thinking and tech-savvy than all their preceding generations and that they aren’t afraid to jump ship for more perks and a better salary.

The important takeaway from these sociological studies is not that our future is doomed because the workforce is full of selfie-taking slackers. It’s that the new workforce is driven by different motivational factors from their financially-focused predecessors. They grew up with all the world’s information literally at their fingertips. They’re incredibly tech-savvy, require feedback on their work, and love a good work/life balance. So rather than assuming millennials are hopeless, give them what they need to stimulate their hard work and capitalize on their technical skill set. Here’s a list of what Millenials need to feel engaged at work:

1. Two-Way Communication

Individual Level

There is a consensus that millennials need more feedback and praise on their work performance than the previous two generations. So, why aren’t we doing this already? Communication challenges within organizations are one of the top reasons our customers find us (closely followed by email overload). So of course, leveraging your intranet to encourage two-way communication is key. Furthermore, managers need to commit one-on-one meetings with their employees. Use this time to discuss wins, challenges, any resources they may require and level of job satisfaction.

Company Level

At Intranet Connections, company-wide goals are an integral factor in our success. They provide direction, feedback, motivation, and overall job satisfaction. So the communication strategy that surrounds goals is imperative. Proper planning leads to proper execution, and when apart from the overall successes or challenges of the company, millennials feel driven to contribute their part too.

How We Communication Organizational Goals

The executive team sets departmental company-wide goals and attributes which departments can contribute in their own way. These are communicated verbally through town halls, visually through presentations, and internally on our intranet. Once our employees are well versed in the company initiatives, we brainstorm ways to reach those targets in person as a team, then divide responsibilities individually. Between there are two check-in points to discuss how the goals are going, if the targets need to be adjusting for unforeseen reasons, or if any resources are needed.

2. Flexible Work Hours

A study conducted by Bentley University confirms that 77% of Millennials believe flexible work hours would make the workplace more productive for their generation. Another study confirms over 50% would switch jobs to get flexible hours. But this is not to say they don’t want to work.

It’s less about counting the clock, and more about production value.

Our office hours are flexible between 7:00am – 5:00pm. Sometimes you may show up after dropping your kids at school or leave early for a doctor’s appointment. However, the tradeoff means staying later to help a customer, answer emails at 10pm, or finish a project on Saturday morning, and we’re happy to do it.

3. Career Development

Although you can’t give out promotions like participation medals, you can offer a hand up by investing in your employees. This is a long-term strategy that prevents complacency and promotes loyalty. When your employees know you are committed to their future as much as they are, it ignites their drive and provides new skill sets and tools to execute on the job.

We recently launched the ‘Level Up’ program at Intranet Connections. This allows a monetary investment in each employee’s continued education; and an investment in time with mentors matched with employees in different departments to help them reach their career aspirations. The program starts with an online form to

4. Recognition

You don’t have to perform grand gestures to make your employees feel valued! Display milestones on the homepage such as birthdays, promotions, and work anniversaries so that colleagues can send their regards on a message board or in person.

For birthdays and work anniversaries, we get everyone in the office to sign a card for their colleague, and we’ll get them a cinnamon bun from the local bakery, (and of course – more pastries to share).

Giving or receiving a promotion is a very exciting life milestone! Employers should be celebrated for their accomplishment. We make sure to announce promotions during our daily huddle, with a short speech from the CEO thanking them for their dedication to the company and their role.

5. Culture

It’s not enough just to provide a paycheck for your employees anymore. Your millennial employees need to want to come to work. Our office strongly promotes our core values; SPICE (simplicity, positivity, integrity, creativity, and empathy). They’re literally written on the wall. A few other small but powerful initiatives run in our office include:

  • Creating a warm, fun, friendly environment
  • Socializing
  • Rewards for performance
  • Open to flex time as long as work gets done
  • Giving a voice to every employee that is heard and valued
  • Mentoring opportunities
  • Pet-friendly office
  • 30-minute exercise breaks
  • Team events
  • Work parties
  • Lunch and learns
  • Sharing in company success

With just under 30 employees, we’ve nearly doubled our staff in the last year, but the culture has remained the same. The culture is so rooted that it starts with the interview processes. Ensuring a candidate isn’t only qualified and able, but also shares our core values to make the office enjoyable for everyone.

If you have any questions about how to leverage your employee engagement software to keep your staff happy – leave us a note below!

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About the Author:

Caitlin is a strategy-driven marketing professional with over six years of experience. She is well versed in goal-driven initiatives and her efforts in digital marketing have included numerous successful marketing campaigns, building and executing social media portfolios and creative storytelling. She holds a Digital and Mobile Marketing Certificate from Simon Fraser University as well as a Bachelor of Commerce (Honours Marketing) degree from the University of Guelph. When she's not in the office, you'll find her in the mountains either skiing or hiking.

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