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5 Surprising Ways to Motivate Millennials at Work

Lazy? Not engaged? Don’t care attitude? Jump from job to job? Millennials have been described in those terms and far worse. It’s true that millennials view work differently. They’ve grown up with technology. Compared to earlier generations, they’re better educated. Millennials learned to multitask, practically from birth. Settling on something goes against their nature. Those sound like great qualities. What’s not to like? The problem is not that millennials are lazy and don’t care. The problem is, according to entrepreneur Steve Voudouris, “a lack of workplace motivations that fit in with the millennial personality.”

A recent Gallup Poll found millennials the least engaged group when it comes to work. What can you do to motivate the millennials in your organization and take advantage of their unique talents and skills? Here are 5 surprising ways to motivate millennials.

#1. Empowering Millennials

Empowering doesn’t mean dumping unwanted projects on them, but assigning meaningful responsibilities that challenge employees to make a difference. For example, use a millennial employee’s technological advantage to enhance the company’s social media presence. Put a millennial in charge of engaging with customers and colleagues on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media venues. Need an expert in a particular software? Let your millennial employee take on the challenge. Once you’ve assigned a project, let them work it out on their own. Being micromanaged is one of the top reasons millennials leave jobs.

Don’t limit millennials to technology-based projects. One of the best ways to empower millennials and encourage them to use their inherent talents is by giving them full creative license. Let them bounce ideas off colleagues and introduce new project ideas. Make them feel they are part of the organization’s success.

#2. Flexibility is King

For millennials, life is more than a job. Personal growth, family and friends, volunteer work and leisure activities all have an important role in their lives. Work hour flexibility and telecommuting are perks that attract millennials and keep them on the job.

#3. Feedback, Please

Millennials like the freedom to work on projects by themselves, but they also require frequent feedback. It’s not as contradictory as it sounds. Being held accountable is necessary for both managers and employees. Managers should make it a point to be as generous with legitimate praise as they are with constructive criticism.

#4. Relationships First

Millennials aren’t terribly impressed with the old school hierarchy within an organization. Building relationships is much more important to their happiness and satisfaction at work than climbing a career ladder. Create an environment where it’s easy to build strong relationships with co-workers. Try using an open office plan and bringing people together through social and team building activities.

#5. It’s About Fun and Passion

Millennials will move on if they don’t feel a personal connection to their place of work. To develop a fun and passionate environment, sponsor activities that promote a family feeling. Have company picnics, encourage participation in charitable events, celebrate the personal triumphs of individual staff members and enlist staff to come to the aid of co-workers in need. For millennials, work is more than a job. It’s life.

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