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Top 3 Millennial Motivators

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With the growing impact of the Millennial generation – those born between 1980-2000 – today’s workforce is changing dramatically. Millennials are transforming and disrupting industries such as media, auto, beauty and retail, both as a growing consumer segment and as future leaders of global organizations. The big mystery that continues to cause friction between Millennials and their management stems from a lack of understanding about what truly motivates this generation personally and professionally.

For example, it may surprise you to find that money is not the key motivator for Millennials. In a recent study done by Barnes & Noble College and Why Millennials Matter, 92 percent of the 3,000+ students who responded identified “personal fulfillment” as the top indicator of career success, far above financial rewards and public recognition. “Making a difference” trumped money, status and power, showing that they want to see a real connection between their work and their values.

By applying this insight to your business, you can transform how you currently manage, engage and reward your youngest work teams. Here are three steps to unleashing the potential of your young talent.

  • The first step is to raise awareness about the unique talents, aspirations and influences of the Millennial generation. For example, as an employer of 10,000+ Millennial students in their campus stores, Barnes & Noble College used these research findings to take its own training and development programs to the next level. By ensuring their programs are aligned with the expectations, needs and wants of Millennials, Barnes & Noble College is helping students build the skills they need to succeed in their future careers. By taking the opportunity to breakdown this generation’s values and motivators at work, companies can align their organization around the common values and methods for engagement.
  • The next step is critical and often misaligned. You must emphasize management’s role and accountability in motivating and retaining Millennials. Who Millennials work for and how inclusive the environment is can make or break their commitment to an organization, and communicating with them openly and often about their experiences is vital to retaining them. Create a culture that promotes and rewards managers who are strong at connecting with their people. For example, Barnes & Noble College conducts internal focus groups with student booksellers to hear firsthand about their experiences with management. Contrary to media perception, this generation is highly respectful of the role of management, and they are looking to their leaders as role models for successful behaviors. But to earn their respect, they require authenticity – the type of manager who will roll up his or her sleeves and work beside them when needed. Managers must not forsake the invaluable influence they have on their younger team members.
  • Human Resources and Training are key stakeholders who can collaborate to deliver support for management and Millennials. Millennials are looking for immediate training and the opportunity to expand their skillset to grow their expertise across different topics. Managers need reinforcement and perspective about the values and motivators in their younger workforce and assistance in the most effective, authentic practices for communication, expectations and recognition.

Millennials are destined by sheer number to lead the world in every sector. Make sure your company is evolving to align with their values and facilitating a culture that will inspire and empower their growth as your future leaders. As a current leader in your organization, you can crack the code for engagement by following these three steps, which will allow you to stand out as a company and brand preferred by Millennials.

Joan Snyder Kuhl is a Millennial Career Expert with Barnes & Noble College and the founder of Why Millennials Matter. Barnes & Noble College and Why Millennials Matter partnered on a nationwide study to uncover what motivates, influences and matters to students as it relates to their career, garnering more than 3,000 responses from students at two- and four-year colleges and universities across 44 states.

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