How Can We Motivate the Millennial Workforce?

Understanding employees and what drives them to be productive is a difficult challenge most businesses today are faced with. According to research reports, millennials are increasingly ambitious but lack the motivation to progress in a employed career.

Below CEO Today talks to Pete Eyre, Managing Director at Vevox, who believes organisations should be looking to provide more than end of week target bonus’ and freebies such as the office fruit basket to motivate their workforce and should be focusing their efforts on making the way employees work day-to-day streamlined and more enjoyable.

The term ‘millennials’ encompasses a broad and increasingly influential swathe of today’s workforce. It is typically used to describe people born between the early 1980s and late 1990s. KPMG’s 2017 report ‘Meet the Millennials’ stated: ‘they currently comprise 35% of the UK workforce1. This figure is likely to increase. It is therefore key that businesses engage positively with millennials and understand what motivates them.

Yet, that is not happening effectively today. Many millennials are restless and disengaged. 49% of millennials surveyed for The Deloitte Global Millennial Survey 2019 said they would, if they had a choice, quit their current jobs in the next two years. In Deloitte’s 2017 report, that number was 38%.

So how can businesses reverse this trend?  From the outset, they need to understand how important impact, recognition and a regular exchange of advice and opinions is to millennials – and adapt their approach accordingly.

Young employees are motivated by the opportunity to contribute to projects and come up with new ideas that make an impact. Social media has played a part in how this generation interacts. They are used to having their say on all kinds of topics – and they want to have their voice heard.

Regular, honest, real-time feedback is also appreciated by millennials. This instant engagement and response is what younger generations crave. They have, after all, grown up with it via online tests, instant technology and real-time communication – and they want this kind of approach to be reflected in the way that their employer engages with them.

Millennials are often impatient for success. They are looking for ways to fast-track their careers and they expect their employer to recognise their efforts and reward them. The lesson for business is: if you invest in their careers and give them training and development opportunities, they are more likely to stay with you.  In the Deloitte survey, 35% of millennials who said they might leave their current employer within the next two years gave ‘not enough opportunities to advance’ as a main reason for this, while 28% cited ‘lack of learning and development opportunities’ and 23% referenced ‘I don’t feel appreciated’.

The overall working environment is also very important to millennials. They want to work somewhere that has a flexible culture suited to their needs. Salary is important to them but it is not the ‘be all and end all’. Typically, they care just as much about how happy they are in their work environment and their experiences.

They want to work somewhere that has a flexible culture suited to their needs. Salary is important to them but it is not the ‘be all and end all’.

In shaping these experiences, technology is likely to have a key role to play. The Deloitte survey found that 49% of millennials believe new technologies will augment their jobs.3 In line with this, most millennials are tech-savvy. They expect their workplace to keep up with the times.

It is important that organisations recognise that younger generations have grown up with rapid advancements in technology and communication channels, which have changed the workplace. It is equally key that they offer technology that millennials both want to use for training sessions and internal meetings, and see as supporting a flexible workplace culture that promotes positive engagement and recognition for all.

Looking Ahead

In the future, organisations that want to attract and retain the best young talent will need to keep up with the latest technological innovations. They will, however, also need to ensure that they are implementing technology that promotes positive engagement with millennials. In competitive markets, businesses need to be seen as forward thinking. Millennials are a growing proportion of the overall workforce and their influence is increasing. Those companies that best adjust to the needs of these employees and engage and interact with them positively and openly will drive up levels of loyalty, productivity and ultimately competitive edge.

  2. Among millennials like those surveyed in the past (college-educated and employed in the same markets), 54% said they believe new technologies will augment their jobs.

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