I have been asked 3 times this week for advice on how to motivate Millennials in the workplace. In each scenario, the manager went on to tell me that the problem with this group is that they want feedback every week, they are lazy, and they aren’t loyal. Hmmm….. ok, let’s assume for a moment all 3 statements are entirely true.
Millennials want feedback. Feedback plays a critical role in improving performance and helping a company meet their goals as efficiently as possible. Research shows that 42% of Millennials want feedback from their supervisor every week. Keep in mind, feedback is different than praise. This statistic doesn’t say that 42% of Millennials need their ego stroked every week. It says that this generation appreciates knowing if they are on right track or if they need to make a course correction to get better results. Regular communication around a project and the ability to manage with Agile Methodology saves companies a lot of time and resources and makes them more competitive in the marketplace.
Feedback clarifies for all employees the behaviors companies value and want to see repeated. In this way communication and feedback strengthen the corporate culture. When was the last time you heard an Executive complain that, “Things are going great except for the constant project-related communication! My mangers talk to their employees, reward them for meeting goals with praise, and actually coach them when things go wrong.” Ridiculous, right? That sounds like a dream-team, not something to complain about. My advice for motivating Millennials who want feedback… give it to them! Don’t stop there….. go crazy….. provide all of your employees with feedback that improves their performance and consequently the competitiveness of your entire company.
Millennials are lazy. Recent research from the Gallup Organization demonstrates that employees are engaged at work when they have the opportunity to do things that utilize their inherent strengths. When workers are placed in jobs they don’t enjoy or that don’t allow them to use their natural talents they do tend to become disengaged, and yes, that could be viewed as lazy. The majority of people, including Millennials, are not lazy. It is human nature to want to contribute and be viewed as a valued member of society. In fact, when asked, 88% of Millennials aren’t striving for Work-Life Balance, but a healthy Work- Life Integration. This is exactly the opposite of lazy! This generation is willing to work at all hours of the day and night if we trust them to do it. The question then, is are you building teams of people with complementary skills, putting people in the right job, and providing an environment that motivates them to produce?
Millennials aren’t loyal. One piece of advice I have heard over and over is that, “It’s not supposed to be fun, that is why it is called work.” Millennials just don’t see it that way. Millennials believe that life is too short to be unhappy in a job and they understand that unhappy workers are not as productive as their happy counterparts. If your Millennial employees aren’t sticking around, the question is what are doing to hold onto them? Millennials tend to want flexible work schedules (remember- they want to integrate not separate their personal and work lives), they want opportunities to grow and learn, they want to contribute to meaningful projects, and they want to work for a company that they are proud of. If your company doesn’t hold those values, you probably will have difficulty hanging on to the best and brightest in this generation. But then, is it really their fault?
Millennials make up the largest percentage of the American workforce and they have a lot to teach us. True, they have things to learn too, but instead of sticking our head in the sand and wishing we didn’t have to adapt to a changing society, let’s drop the resistance and give this new group of employees what they want. Let’s communicate expectations and provide feedback, let’s put people in jobs that allow them to shine, and let’s change our mindset that rigidity in the workplace always means efficiency. We might find out that we are all happier, more productive, and able to find business solutions we didn’t know were possible.