How to keep Millennials motivated

23 January 2022 - 2-3 minutes read
They often get a bad rap, but Millennials now make up the backbone of our workforce. We look at ways to keep the new generation of workers engaged and motivated, to help retain their invaluable skills.

Millennials. The very word can have anyone over the age of 40 rolling their eyes in exasperation. 

Yet while the next generation of workers’ trend for job-hopping and general mistrust of traditions can often leave employers scratching their heads, the truth is that Millennials are here to stay. Which means, like it or not, they definitely warrant our attention.

The gradual takeover
To start, let’s consider some basic figures. As of February 2021, 82% of New Zealand Millennials said they were in full or part-time work.1 Do the quick maths and that adds up to around half the current workforce, the largest age demographic in employment terms.

COVID aside, no wonder then that we’re starting to see greater disruption across different industries, as Millennials continue to move up the business ladder – not to mention a potentially more transient workforce.

What Millennials want
Whatever you may think of their work habits, Millennials are the most educated and culturally diverse generation yet, possessing a natural flair for technology and ability to embrace change that can be invaluable to any business. The trouble is keeping hold of them.

So what are they looking for in a job exactly? Everyone’s different of course, but here are some general suggestions on how to attract, motivate and retain the next generation of workers. (Spoiler alert - you may you may need to consider changing your business and management approach):

1) Offer more flexibility
According to studies by Deloitte2, the top priority for Millennials when choosing a job – and sticking with it – is a good work/life balance. And because they are so tech savvy, this means not being chained to a desk from 9 to 5, but rather having the ability to work from anywhere, anytime they prefer. In other words, if you want to keep hold of your Millennial talent, you need to offer more flexible hours and working practices.

2) Give frequent feedback
Everyone likes to be noticed and acknowledged for their efforts, and that goes extra for the younger generations. The advent of digital technology and social media means that instant gratification is now expected. Some might call it being needy, but it doesn’t need to be anything other than simply saying thanks, or congrats on a task well done. That constant line of open communication can be what Millennials crave, and thrive upon.

3) Create new titles and stepping stones
More than any generation before them, Millennials are impatient to progress their careers, which may explain their willingness to jump ship more often. After all, who wants to wait 5 years for a promotion when there’s an exciting new opportunity elsewhere? To counter this, consider adding incremental titles to your employment structure – stepping stones to prove advancement. It could help to show Millennials they are valued, and gives them something to shout about to their friends online.

4) Encourage collaboration
As established, this generation grew up with technology, so they love their devices. Which means they’re happy to harness anything new and digital if it helps them to be more productive. So if you haven’t already, be sure to incorporate new ways to communicate and collaborate within your team. It will help to encourage innovative thinking – always a boon.

5) Cut the BS

Millennials are all about respect and valuing their colleagues. They also have a very attuned radar when it comes to people pretending to be something they’re not. So don’t try and bluff your way through like a politician – be honest and accessible, authentic to yourself, and don’t try to make out you know exactly what the young ‘uns are up to these days. If you try to impress, you’ll just lose their trust.

6) Have more fun
Forget the stuffy business structures and formality of the business world. That’s so last century. Serious is out, and what Millennials really want is somewhere they can have fun while working -  an environment that is relaxed and flexible, open for communication, and encourages sharing and innovation. It doesn’t mean being less productive, it’s just a more attractive way to work.

7) Explain the why
Gone are the days of doing what you’re told without question. Millennials are more likely to ask why they’ve been tasked with something, before they start work. They also like to feel part of the decision-making process, so try to include them before asking for buy-in. Beyond this, let them know the bigger picture too. Share the company vision, what you want to achieve and why, and they’re much more likely to get behind things – and stick around too.

8) Give back and pay forward
Millennials want to make a difference in the world, and that includes being part of an organisation that gives back to the community, or the planet. So if you don’t already, consider making voluntary work part of the working week or month. Then everyone can feel like they’re making a positive impact.

Lastly, never forget that Millennials aren’t some new alien breed. They’re knowledgeable and ambitious people just like preceding generations, they’ve just grown up in a world where things happen much quicker. And if you treat them with the respect they deserve, they can help any business achieve incredible things quicker too.