It’s safe to say that at this point, you’ve read dozens of articles on how to engage millennials at work. In fact, you’ve probably heard all those columnists (usually non-millennials) harp on about about how Gen Y is the most self-absorbed, narcissistic, and neediest generation ever. Not to knock their craft or research, but I really don’t think some of these columnists or “trend analyzers” truly understand today’s culture or the benefits of employing this unique era of people that are really striving for excellence.
I guess right now would be a perfect time to admit that I fall into this generation of individuals. Personally, I think being a millennial is awesome – it feels amazing to be a part of this “anti-generation” generation. We really make a push to stand out and be unique. Before writing this, I never considered myself to be a “millennial,” nor have I ever discussed it with any of my peers, but now that I think about it, I feel extremely happy and fortunate to be part of a generation that includes some of the most creative people in the world.
So the real question is: how do you keep millennials engaged at work? It may sound complex, but it’s actually quite simple. Here are three tips to help you keep your Gen Y employees happy and engaged at work.
1. Provide a change of scenery
There’s a reason that major websites often change their interface and platform every couple of months – millennials becoming engaged afer seeing the same thing over and over again! I hate to break it to any old school workplaces, but modeling your workplace after the Taylorism approach simply doesn’t work anymore.
The truth is, if you have millennials doing repetitive tasks for long periods of time, their motivation will fizzle down and chances are they’re going to give up on you. Millennials need to be challenged in order to be engaged. They want new tasks on a daily basis and they like to be pushed to come up with new ideas. They want to do something that’ll make a difference and impact their industry. Don’t believe me? Look at the majority of the new disruptive companies or websites that have been founded in the past 15 years and look at how many of the founders were in their twenties.
If your company doesn’t specialize in sending ripples across the globe, that’s fine. As long as you’re giving millennial employees an opportunity to make an impact within your workplace, it will be enough to keep them engaged. Something as simple as giving them a title change or having them perform different tasks will have them working harder and perfecting new skills. Also, try moving them around often and having them sit with the more experienced employees. Millennials are knowledge junkies, so having them sit with experienced employees will allow them to learn from previous mistakes and experiences. This is also helpful for older employees, as millennials tend to be extremely knowledgeable about new technologies and ideologies, so they might actually be able to share some knowledge with your more experienced employees as well.
Remember, millennials are natural born multi-taskers – they can barely keep less than 3 tabs open on their browsers. They don’t want to limit themselves to only being able to do one thing – they want to be jacks of all trades, and they want to do things as efficiently as possible.
2. You better recognize!
I once heard a great quote: “There are two things that people want more than sex and money: recognition and praise.” Although times have changed, one thing remains the same – one of the best ways to engage a millennial employee is through recognition.
Daniel Pink’s “Drive” discusses what really motivates people – and interestingly, he found that people aren’t likely to be motivated by any extrinsic or tangible rewards. Sure, having a cool gift from the company is a nice thing to have, but it’s not really leading to better performance from employees.
I think it’s safe to say that millennials don’t give a damn about having a gift card or fancy pen for meeting a quota or completing a goal. They want to be recognized for their accomplishments and praised for their good doings by their peers. For example, being that we live in a society where people can make headlines by typing 140 characters, why not use your company’s Twitter handle to recognize them for their work (or even a blog post if it doesn’t take too much time). Actions like this are more likely to keep your Gen Y employees engaged.
3. Gamification for the win!
Games are fun, plain and simple. In fact, millennials were practically born playing video games. They’ve been racking in points, accomplishing tough tasks and overcoming obstacles since they were potty training. In fact, games are becoming such a powerful tool that there’s a growing demand for gamified workplace apps for major companies.
New gamified work apps and platforms are being developed to appease the modern day employee. In fact, it’s projected that by the year 2014, 7 out of 10 global 2000 companies will have a gamified platform for their office because they’re being recognized as great motivational tools for millennials and other generations alike. Millennials will definitely feel comfortable with creating a game out of their job. This will easily be the best way to really engage them in the workplace and generate great results.
Millennials are an interesting bunch, but rather than calling them narcissist or needy, look at them for what they really are – a group of young men and women who respect accomplishments from the past, but will strive towards creating a better future. Is my generation self-absorbed? Yes, but only because we want to be recognized for creating a better world.
What is your office doing to engage its millennial employees? Would you offer any other tips for engaging Gen Y employees? Share with us in the comments section!
About the Author
Jeff Fermin is the Director of Good Vibes at Officevibe, a unique app designed to boost employee engagement and enhance company culture. He’s devoted to finding the best practices in organizational culture, along with helping companies run efficiently. Aside from that he is a lover of art, film, sports, and lifehacks. Say hi to Jeff on Twitter via @JeffFermin or @officevibe.