Motivating Millennials at Work

 In Company Culture/People At Work, Executive and Business Coaching, HR Tools, Leadership

 Motivating Millennials at WorkIf you work in an organization where you have colleagues between the ages of 18 and 35, you probably have something to say about the millennial generation.  In 2014 the millennials will comprise 36% of the workforce and by 2020 they will represent nearly half of those working.

I read a great piece by Jenna Goudreau and want to share her wise tips about how to engage millennial workers. They are the most educated and culturally diverse generation but also tend to be zig zaggers, hopping from job to job and distrusting bureaucracy, according to Goudreau.

So many non-millennial professionals are baffled about how to co-exist and get the most out of this rookie generation in the workforce. Here are a few of Goudreau’s tips about motivating the under-35 crowd.

Be Clear About The Company Vision – explain the big picture and how it provides meaning for the individual worker. Millennials want to know how their work plays a part in the company at large and gives purpose to the mission.

Prioritize Community Service – studies show that millennials value helping those in need more than a fat paycheck. Encourage them to get out into the community and serve while being ambassadors for the company.  A few hours a month of on-the-clock time for these service projects will help them feel validated while doing something important. That’s a win-win for the company and the employee.

Give Encouragement and Regular Feedback – the millennials want to be noticed and crave feedback as well as constructive criticism.  Since praise doesn’t cost anything but not praising does, validating millennials with authentic feedback is a wise investment that can motivate the troops. The praise must be well deserved so set up a culture of rewarding those with praise who earned it.

Be Flexible – even though Marissa Mayer nixed working from home at Yahoo, not every organization is ready to give up flexibility, nor should they. The millennials are extremely tech savvy and the concept of work/life balance is their top professional value. Research shows they will sacrifice pay for more vacation time or a flexible schedule so tap into this with options, provided that performance doesn’t slack off with flexibility.

Offer Professional Development – many millennials want to advance and grow their careers so professional development and continuing education opportunities are extremely important.  In addition to stretch projects and opportunities for development internally with mentors and sponsors, add leadership training and external conferences to the menu and consider this a wise investment in this generation of employees.

Develop In-Between Steps and Titles – since moving from job to job is becoming the norm for millennials, they don’t want to wait around for advancement and promotions. Consider alternative titles that show incremental growth and smaller advancement opportunities until they are ready for a bigger promotion. This just might keep them in place longer and will meet their desire for career progression.

At the end of the day, we all have to play well in the company sandbox and understanding what drives each generation is the first step towards professional détente.

With over a decade of career and professional development coaching experience, Caroline Dowd-Higgins has a desire to empower and energize people to achieve their personal goals.  Her training style is engaging, high energy, and positive with a focus on unlocking the self-advocate within each of us.  Read more from Caroline at

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