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The Generation Gap: Motivating Millennials (part 1 of 2)

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Jessica Miller-Merrell, blogging4jobs

If it seems that Millennials are taking over the workforce, there’s a reason for that. These young adults are entering their careers, bright eyed and bushytailed, in huge numbers. In fact, by the year 2025, Millennials will make up 75 percent of the U.S. workforce.  Although young professionals are nothing new to businesses, what is new are the traits that this generation has, the beliefs they hold and the things that motivate them.

For those who are exploring what it means to motivate Millennials, you’ve probably seen that the ways you motivate other members of your workforce, such as your Gen Xers and Boomers, either don’t work or at least don’t work as famously as you may have hoped. Millennials aren’t an entirely new and elusive species, but it may appear that way as you watch them reply to your emails in a fashion more fitting for a text message.

Since this generation is moved and motivated by different things than their older co-workers, managers have a valuable opportunity to tap into what does motivate them and unlock incredibly productive, loyal, innovative side of their Millennials.

Help them see the big picture

Millennials have seen their parents clock in and out of work for the last 20 to 30 years, and while they admire their work ethic, a paycheck is not enough of a motivation for them to be truly engaged. This generation likes to see how the dots connect to make a complete picture. They want to understand the company’s values, mission and purpose. Help them see the big picture of what the company stands for and why that’s important to encourage loyalty to the organization. When Millennials are proud of their company, they will go to great lengths to ensure its success.

Encourage relationship

Millennials are typically very good at connecting with others, or at the very least are used to being connected through many different channels at once thanks to social networking. Make the most of this skill and help them feel more satisfied by creating opportunity for relationship building. This can be between co-workers, through team bonding and group efforts or with clients or vendors. Teach them how to build professional relationships that will benefit them and your company and you could likely reap the benefit of their connections while also helping them feel more satisfied at work.

Be flexible

As much as young people are accused of not knowing what they want, Millennials definitely know that they want work-life balance. They value enjoying life outside of work and are not impressed by their workaholic parents as they have seen the effects of it. To motivate, facilitate loyalty and ultimately retain this generation, learn to roll with the punches a bit. Offer flexible schedules, work from home opportunities and freedom to use vacation time to those who are performing well. It’s a motivator to be a high performer and shows that you value their preferences and understand what’s important to them.

Allow them to grow – professionally and personally

Millennials want to be well rounded – they want it all. They want to be great at their jobs, creative, innovative, connected, involved in social awareness efforts and engaged in community giving initiatives. In fact, they are most satisfied when all these aspects of self are engaged. You can do quite a bit to help them fulfill all these desires by providing learning and development opportunities that encourage professional development, sponsoring their participation in professional networking organizations, giving them time to flesh out new ideas and pursue innovative concepts, facilitating community efforts and embracing social awareness interests company wide.

What do you find to be the most different thing about motivating Millennials rather than their older co-workers? Let us know in the comments section below. 


Learn all about how to manage multiple generations in your workforce with this informative PayScale whitepaper: Compensation Challenges for a MultiGenerational Workforce

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