Strategies to keep the new generation of millennial employees motivated and productive for your business
Employee motivation can be a tricky thing to decipher. Some believe it’s driven by a hierarchy of desires, others by intrinsic rewards. Whatever the truth behind motivation is, you can be damn sure millennials are going to turn at least some of that truth on it’s head.
Despite what the mainstream media would have you believe, we’re not self-centered brats looking to shake things up for the hell of it. We’re actually trying to change the world for the better, and that includes our workplaces.
If you’re struggling to keep millennial employees both motivated and productive, consider the following strategies.
Acknowledge Their Contributions
Though it’s true that millennials need more acknowledgment than previous generations, this constant recognition serves a valuable purpose by allowing them to identify exactly where they stand within the company. This is why acknowledging millennial employees’ hard work goes such a long way in them both happy and motivated. The more secure they feel in their work, the more productive they are.
Fortunately (considering the frequency required), you don’t have to go into great detail when recognizing their efforts. Something as simple as, “Thank you for sharing those innovative ideas during the meeting,” or “I really appreciate your hard work” does a lot to keep them engaged.
Feedback is also helpful if they’re not performing. You can bring up any issues that may be on the table and they can use this information to improve. Open communication such as this is highly valued by millennials and will serve to benefit the company in the long run.
Give Them Some Responsibility
Generation Y isn’t content to get a job and stay in the same role for years on end. Their desire to make a difference drives them to seek out the channels that offer growth and professional development. To get the most out of your millennial employees, you to have to provide them opportunities to lead — if you don’t, they will look elsewhere.
Be on the lookout for opportunities to give millennial employees the lead on projects, initiatives, or committees. Create a career development track to solidify workers’ perception of a future at your company. Crowdsource suggestions on how to facilitate employee growth in the company. Then, do whatever you possibly can to turn their ideas into reality.
Millennial employees like to be “in the know” when it comes to company decisions and directives. They hunger to understand the impetus behind these actions, and sharing what motivates said decisions and directives is something you should always aim to do. Providing the full picture gives rise to a stronger connection and inspires them to pursue the company’s goals.
Furthermore, you should work hard to create an open door policy where your employees feel safe asking questions and weighing in. Ask for their advice before you make major decisions, and listen to their perspectives. By including them in the decision-making process, you’ll have access to multiple views and ideas — and this can lead to innovations you may never have considered.
Millennials are passionate about work/life balance. To offset the ever-increasing demand on both work and personal time, it’s imperative you allow your employees to work both flexible hours and remotely. There are multiple reasons to do so — flexible schedules increase employee happiness, minimize burnout, and often benefit the bottom line.
The most common opposition to flexible work from companies is the trust issue. Employers are concerned that by giving their employees a long leash, they’ll only encourage them to shirk their responsibilities. You can encourage employees to remain productive by holding them accountable to communication guidelines and project deadlines. If you cannot trust an employee to work remotely, then they shouldn’t be an employee at all.
Create an Inviting Work Environment
Yes, cubicle farms were the bane of our predecessors, but the open office concept was a poor solution. While it’s true that some company cultures thrive in open offices, where cooperation and open communication are key, many employees need a distraction-free environment to keep motivation and productivity trending upward. Since there’s no one size fits all approach, it best to create different “zones” within your office to promote varied working styles, such as collaboration zones, and quiet zones.
As for everything else, you can jazz up the office atmosphere by painting accent walls in bright colors, throwing up some custom artwork, introducing hanging and potted plants, and investing in decorative lighting and comfortable furniture. Don’t forget to let in as much natural light as possible, as it’s been show to have both health and productivity benefits.
Poll your employees and ask what type of office space would serve them best. Though ping-pong tables and the latest design trends may be cool, your main goal should be to create an environment that is beneficial to your employees as well as your business.
Decoding the millennial mindset is key to increasing their motivation, productivity, and engagement. A generous helping of honesty, respect, and freedom will give your millennial employees the leg up they need to discover their potential, grow as professionals, and do the best possible work for your company.
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