Understanding and Motivating Millennials

by Thomas Byrne Associates | March 5, 2015

Thomas Byrne - MillenialsIt’s a simple fact that motivated employees are more productive and creative. Their contributions are often key to business success with the potential to set an organization apart from the competition.

But what strategies work when it comes to motivating Millennials, the more than 80 million 18-35 year-olds who make up over a third of the U.S. work force? As the most educated and culturally diverse generation yet, they are often labeled as job-hoppers with a dislike for bureaucracy and a distrust for the traditional chain of command. Many employers are left scratching their heads, at a loss for how to best connect with and get the most from their Millennial employees.

Mariela Dabbah advises,

“The problem is that some of us are so unaccustomed to accepting ideas from people who aren’t the ‘right age’ that we miss out on many brilliant ideas. Which is why the first step towards motivating millennials in the workplace is to listen to them. Discover what their interests are and find ways to support them. Sounds pretty simple, but for some reason just a handful of companies are doing this well. As a result, many continue to see high levels of employee turnover.” 1

Millennial experts weigh in with several proven ways to inspire this complex generation.

  • Explain the company vision

Jenna Goudreau shares,

“ ‘If you can explain the whole picture, it connects the meaning to the person,’ says Jeremy Kingsley, leadership expert and author of Inspired People Produce Results. Millennial workers are more likely to look for meaning and impact in their work and aren’t satisfied simply punching a clock. Helping them understand their role in a larger plan gives them a clearer sense of purpose.”  2

  • Leverage their tech-savvy connections

Not only are they smart, but they are more than comfortable connecting with people around the world, a perk thanks to their interest in gaming and social media. Tap into their experience crossing borders and meshing cultures when you’re seeking to create a more inclusive work environment. Involve them in diversity and inclusion initiatives and peg them for multicultural ventures. 

  • Bring in the passion

Denise Restauri suggests,

Passion is more than an emotion – passion is a valuable resource. This isn’t just for Millennials, but for all people. Ask a person to do something they aren’t passionate about and it goes into the ‘I have to do this job to pay the rent’ bucket. But let them connect to what they care about, and they’ll give it their all. And the results from giving it their all will positively impact the company’s bottom-line.” 3

  • Set the bar high

Take advantage of this reality: they grew up with the world literally at their fingertips and anything they don’t know can be found on Google. Brush off the occasional arrogance that may go with that mindset and focus on their resourcefulness instead. Present them with challenges and invite them to explore the solutions. Let them know you’re ready and waiting for the great, out-of-the-box insights and ideas, which they’ll produce.

Regardless of whom you’re seeking to inspire, remember the origins of motivation as noted by Seleste Lunsford,

“Because it comes from within, motivation cannot be created, taught, or instilled. It can, however, be tapped into, supported, and maintained.” 4

Allow Thomas Byrne Associates to lead your company to the brightest, most innovative job-seeking Millennials.