If You Want Millennials to Outperform, Find out What Motivates Them

Millennials are one of the largest generations in history. And they are set to transform the world we live in. By the time they retire, millennials will change transportation, commerce, work, education. Everything will be different. Even right now, they are already repainting the landscape.

Born between 1980 and 2000, millennials are the product of wave after wave of incredible changes. Hence, they’re less homogenous than other generations. Hence, diversity and tolerance are key aspects of this generation. At the same time, globalization and social media have had a significant impact. So many things have happened between 1980 and 2000. Each of them enough to make the world never the same again.

If You Want Millennials to Outperform, Find Out What Motivates Them

Most of everything, millennials are different in what drives them. They are particular in their aspirations. And this is perfect. Because what matters to them is precisely what makes the difference. Between success and failure. Here’s what truly motivates millennials to deliver more.

A snapshot for understanding millennials

To know how to motivate millennials, let’s take a quick look at who they are. Let’s take the first thing off our list. Millennials don’t like to be called millennials. Individualism? Perhaps. It’s almost as if they’re the “we’re not our generation” generation. Nonetheless, here is a data-driven snapshot of millennials.

Millennials in numbers

Millennials are a huge proportion of the population. There are as many as 92 million millennials in the US. By 2020, millennials will account for one in three adults in the US. Canada is doing very well too.

Europe, however, has to deal with a shrinking workforce. There are fewer millennials in Europe. The 2016 eurostat made that much clear. Indeed, Europe’s millennials are scarce. This will bring forth all sorts of challenges in the future, having an aging workforce. It puts teamwork and automation in perspective. Much less so than Japan, which has a “super-ageing” population.

We could cover the whole planet, but one thing is clear. We are about to experience a shift towards millennial values.

Millennials appreciate diversity

In truth, there are several takes on what diversity truly means. From a diversity of genders to a diversity of cultures and backgrounds. Ultimately, it’s how diversity factors in that matters. Workplace diversity is a crucial issue for millennials. It used to be that workplace diversity meant racial and gender diversity. Now, that is all expected as part of what’s normal. And in this day and age, diversity means that our brains are different. Hence, we can bring a whole world of perspectives to the table. This is already affecting the pay gap.

Millennials value meaningful work

For millennials, workplace satisfaction beats monetary compensation. Hence, generational friction with Generation X. To clarify, workplace satisfaction is complex. It has to do with happiness at work, to be sure.

On the other hand, there’s intrinsic motivation. And building intrinsic motivation at work is challenging. Here’s a guide on intrinsic motivation. Ultimately, it all boils down to how satisfied they are with how their work fits the world. It does not have to be about saving the world. But it most certainly must not be against it.

Millennials are optimistic and confident

Millennials are optimistic and confident. Meanwhile, they care about doing meaningful work. This may, at times, lead to chaotic career paths. After all, it makes sense to change jobs often. Why? Because when you feel that your job is not meaningful work, you will try to find another job. And it takes optimism and confidence to take such a leap and look for work elsewhere. It also takes significant emotional intelligence and resilience.

Millennials are social and connected

They use communications like no other generation before. Generation X would fret over making a phone call. Baby boomers would give it all in an e-mail. Don’t misread this. It’s not just the tech. Being digital natives doesn’t stop them from frequenting the library. And sharing selfies does not make anyone a digital native. However, there are valid concerns about hyper-connectivity. There is a chance that connections will become more superficial. Even so, being social and connected is important. Even more so when it comes to teamwork and team communications. After all, they pretty much invented “bring your own device” (BYOD).

3 ways to motivate millennials

Considering all of the above, let’s try and see how you can motivate millennials. The logic is simple. All you need is mixing up the right work conditions.

1. Give them flexible schedules and flat hierarchies

It used to be that you’d punch in your card at 9 and end your work at 5. Much like a Dolly Parton song. Knowledge workers, however, work differently. Their work happens even when they’re not at work.

Consider this scenario. Your millennial finds a brilliant solution to a problem in their free time. Shouldn’t they get some off-time while at work? Things are more complicated. Already we see that co-working and remote work are on the rise. Clearly, managing the balance between work and life is tough.

2. Help them eliminate work stress

Digital natives are great with social media. They know how to browse the web and find what they need. That’s because they’re great with selecting which information is relevant.

Yet, being constantly bombarded with information is tricky. It can easily lead to work stress and work pressure. Which you can eliminate, by the way. There are many ways you can mitigate stress at work. Just use the most cost effective to begin with. After all, you want people on your team to be happy when they talk about your company. It’s called employee advocacy and it’s working wonders in a social media context.

3. Provide feedback, trust and one-on-one meetings

This is simple to understand. Millennials are interested in working on projects that matter. They want to contribute to meaningful projects. At the same time, they get bored easily. Changing jobs is the millennial thing to do. Hence, they need to know how well they’re doing. And that’s why feedback is essential.

And doing one-on-one meetings is the best possible way to offer feedback. After all, the “me” generation wants to shine. It’s a millennial phrase: “Time to shine.” One-on-one meetings have a profound effect. They are a learning opportunity for both participants. What’s more, they build trust.

And here’s the thing about trust. Especially team trust. Teams are the fundamental unit of progress. This is true for any organization. There are few types of work that can do better without teams. For example, art projects, but not all of them. This is why developing team trust is crucial for millennials. Team trust motivates and inspires.

People are more similar than they are different. Ultimately, they follow similar lines. Finding meaning in the work that you do motivates and inspires. Some might find work meaningful because it supports their family. Others might only find meaning in saving the environment. Or reducing their carbon footprint. But there still is a meaning behind the work. And that’s where the motivation is. Ultimately, generations are not that different. Conversely, expect great and beautiful variance.

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