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The Five-Step Plan for Millennial Workers

Ready or not, millennials are storming the workforce, most with a hunger to make it to the front lines and quickly. By 2020, they will make up almost half of workers nationwide.

While arguably overeager, millennials aren’t a generation to overlook. Rather than dismissing these estimated 80 million Americans for weaknesses real or perceived, employers should consider leveraging their strengths in addition to developing those deficits.

Before you can consider ways to engage millennials as employees, you must understand what motivates them. According to an article by The Huffington Post, millennials particularly are motivated by intrinsic, extrinsic and altruistic values.

  • Intrinsic: Millennials want to advance and typically aren’t willing to stick around waiting for a promotion; these are your “go-getters.” They also want and encourage creative work that tests their abilities and is directly beneficial; tedious work isn’t on their agenda.
  • Extrinsic: Millennials have a desire to feel needed. While you may be cringing in your seat, know there are compromises to be made here; they want managers to be adaptable and for their time to be valued. A “thank you” here and there isn’t too much to ask and goes a long way with this generation.
  • Altruistic: Finally, millennials have a social conscience that needs to be fed. They want to leave their mark by improving their community, while erasing their carbon footprint on the earth.  In short, they want to contribute to a greater good.

Business leaders today often are left stumped by this generation and wonder what to do with them in order to get the most from them. Understanding their motivators is the first step, but there are five additional steps employers can take to help motivate this young group.

1. Provide Incremental Progression

Millennials are competitive and easily unamused. They desire steady progression and want to advance fast. In order to accommodate their aggressive nature, consider adding in-between steps and titles, giving them solid markers to work toward in their journey to the top.

2. Vision Is Key

Again, millennials want to feel their work is valued. An easy way to do this is by sharing and explaining the company vision. Creating purpose around their role in the company will resonate well with them.

3. Invest in Development

Companies that don’t offer some type of employee development program are missing the mark. In order for growth to occur in both the individual and the company, it’s important to have a strategic, ongoing-training option in place. Bringing in guest speakers or offering incentives for taking outside leadership classes is a great place to start.

4. Give Performance Reviews and Regular Feedback

Millennials thrive off feedback. What better way to keep them engaged than by opening up the lines of communication? Performance reviews let them know where they stand and where they have to go with regards to meeting employment expectations. With reviews, employers can gauge what’s working and what’s not.

5. Respect What Matters to Them

Respect is a two way street. You expect it, but don’t forget to give it too. For this generation, helping the community is a big motivational contributor. According to the Pew Research Center, millennials hold a higher priority on helping others than on having higher pay. Make an effort to help your employees find ways to get involved in their community.  You could try matching their contributions to their favorite cause, sponsoring local walks and/or runs or hosting non-profit fairs at work to help them connect to community needs.  Also, don’t forget to recognize their volunteerism among their peers.