Motivating Millennials by Finding Their Purpose

Luke Rodenburg
November 13, 2018

In the past, money was the ultimate motivator for workforces, but this is changing. Millennials are more focused on finding purpose at work than taking home a hefty pay-check.

In the past, money was the ultimate motivator for workforces, but this is changing. Millennials are more focused on finding purpose at work than taking home a hefty pay-check.

Motivating millennials is more important than ever — they now make up 35% of the workforce. But the desire to have their work deemed meaningful or purposeful comes at a cost.

61% of seasoned HR professionals believe millennials are "hard to manage and unprepared for the workplace."

The same study also revealed that only 29% of employed millennials feel engaged with their work.

We've compiled 3 essential tips to help you motivate this growing workforce.

1. Connect Their Job to a Greater Cause

You workers at a communal desk

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash.

When employees understand their contribution to the overall organization it gives them a sense of purpose. This is so essential to millennials that they are willing to take a 15% pay cut just to work at a company that aligns with their values.

Connecting jobs to a greater cause can be achieved in three steps:

1. Have a clear vision for your organization's goals.

Outline and define your organizational goals clearly. Without this clear understanding, you won't be able to show your staff how they contribute to these goals.

2. Understand how employees will contribute to organizational goals.

You will likely have a number of organization goals, but one in particular may be the best fit for a given employee's role. Determine which goal is most relevant for that employee. For example, for a salesperson, the goal might be related to increasing sales revenue at under-performing stores.

3. Show employees how they contribute.

Millennials need to be reminded how they fit into the bigger picture. Sit down with them and talk about how their role contributes to the goals of the organization. If managing a retail sales representative, for example, discuss how their initial interaction with the customer affects the likelihood of sales, ultimately contributing to this organizational objective. Sometimes all it takes to generate a sense of purpose is to remind employees about how their work contributes to something bigger than themselves.

4. Offer Frequent Feedback and Validation

Photo by John Schnobrich on Unsplash

Employees want recognition and affirmation that they have an impact on the greater goals of an organization.

A recent study by InsitesConsulting found that millennials place great value on attention and appraisal. In fact, 42% of millennials want feedback on a weekly basis, double the percentage of previous generations.

Weekly one-on-one meetings are an efficient way to fulfill millennials' desire for feedback. One-on-one meetings provide a level of personalization that can't be achieved in strategic or larger meetings.

Feedback doesn't need to take place only in one-on-one meetings. Set aside time in team meetings for 'appreciations', for example, validating staff for their weekly achievements.

5. Offer Rewards Relevant to the Workforce

Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash.

Personalized, thoughtful rewards mean more to millennials than other generations. It's less about the monetary value or cost of the reward, and more about how much it means to the employee.

Choosing the most appropriate rewards across an entire staff is difficult. A savvy way around this is to allow employees to choose their own rewards. Talk to your employees about the kinds of rewards that are most meaningful to them.

This can form part of a broader 'Gamification' strategy, the practice of creating games out of everyday work practices. Gamification encourages employees to complete their tasks to a higher standard. When tasks have been completed the employee is rewarded, either with a real-world reward like a gift voucher, or a symbolic reward like 'tokens' which can be traded for other prizes. A survey by TalentLMS showed that employees love gamification, with over 80% of employees saying that it helps makes them more productive.

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Here's how you can start to implement elements of gamification in your workplace:

Step 1: Outline the game's tasks, timeframes, teams, and rewards.

Step 2: Closely track the tasks being completed and communicate regularly with employees as to who is in the lead or doing well.

Establishing an informal channel of communication is usually the best way to communicate this. This can be something as simple as drawing competition standings on a workspace whiteboard.

Step 3: Reward and recognize the game's winners.

Once the game has concluded, you'll need to distribute rewards to the winners. You can also take the opportunity to recognize them at a staff meeting or during a one-on-one meeting.

In Summary

"Millennials are more interested in what they can give, rather than what they can get." - Javier Bajer, 'Bring on the Millennials!'

The knowledge that work is serving some sort of purpose is one of the major motivations for millennials.

It's essential that staff understand their place in the organization, and can determine their impact and contribution easily.

Feedback and validation ensures that employees are recognized and motivated to complete their roles. Feedback is best given in one-on-one meetings with your employees.

Gamification is a proven way to achieve higher levels of employee motivation and employment.

Arcade advocates the use of gamification to motivate staff and build successful businesses. We created Arcade to give employees a stronger sense of purpose at work, to make feedback easier, and to gamify employee goals.

Request a demo to learn more on how Arcade can drive success in your business.

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