Millennials live a lifestyle that is fast-paced, technologically driven and autonomous. In other words, a completely different way of life from the baby boomers that most managers might be accustomed to supervising. Motivating Millennials in an accelerated digital world may seem like a tough challenge, but it is possible. Working with Millennials, whether it be remotely, on a freelance basis or in an office, is easier and more efficient with these tips below.
1) Emphasize personal growth.
Personal growth and development is important to the Millennial, and to society as well. Master’s degrees are quickly becoming the new Bachelor’s degree, and will most likely be necessary to gain employment in ten years from now. Employers who offer Millennials a chance to grow as an individual will see a worker who is more motivated and ready to take on work. Offering reimbursement for online education is a great place to start. Companies like Evernote even offer incentives for employees’ personal growth, such as a $1,000 travel fund for personal vacations taken. These kinds of lures keep Millennials feeling like work is contributing to personal development rather than hindering it.
2) Acknowledge your mistakes as a manager.
In the age of the internet, it is often times hard to sort out facts from fiction in what you read, watch and absorb. Millennials are used to this chaos, and seek authenticity whenever possible. Managers who are authentic, own up to making mistakes and try to fix the problem with their employees, get the best results with Millennials. Millennials are generally pretty new to the work force, and because they switch jobs often, will most likely be new to the job. They will make many mistakes and want to feel that their manager is capable of making mistakes too. Acknowledging these mistakes as a manager will bring validity to your feedback, and motivate Millennials to try to avoid those mistakes in the future.
3) Give a sense of purpose.
Millennials want to feel like they can impact the world in a positive way through their work. And in the digital age, that is a lot easier thanks to social media, viral videos and online forums. Millennials who feel like they are making a positive change to the world will be highly motivated to work hard and contribute to the overall mission. Contribute to this sense of goodwill by providing exciting volunteer opportunities and matching charitable donations by employees. This will make Millennials feel like, on top of the work they are doing for their job to help the world, they are also helping a cause that is important to them thanks to their employer. It’s a double whammy that will encourage Millennials to contribute to moving the company forward.
4) Keep the work interesting.
If you want to keep a Millennial around, don’t just hire an assistant to do mindless tasks. The work should be stimulating and interesting. It’s going to be an uphill battle, especially considering that the typical 25-year-old has already worked an average of 6.3 jobs from age 18-25. Keeping Millennials motivated in your company means providing work that is on par with their level of intellect and skill. If you think that the work is going to be too hard, give it anyway! It is better for Millennials to feel like they have to step up to the challenge than be bored at work everyday. Allowing Millennials to step up to the challenge will keep their attention and make them motivated to meet goals.
5) Strive for a flexible work-life balance.
Millennials are masters of working remotely, making their own hours and working past normal business hours. Giving Millennials an excellent work-life balance will motivate them to work hard (their own way) while increasing employee retention. It is no longer acceptable to a Millennial workforce to sit at a desk all day when they are capable of working from any place with an internet connection. Trust your Millennial employees that they will get their work done. Then show that trust through benefits like unlimited vacation time. Their desire for flexibility and a great work-life balance will be met and it will motivate them to work hard on their own terms.
What other advice can you share with managers looking to hire a new wave of Millennials to join their teams?
Originally published Dec 05, 2014, updated Aug 12, 2020