Purpose Motivates Millennials More Than a Paycheck

You’ve probably heard two different perspectives when it comes to the millennial worker: “Millennials are different than the current workforce.” “No, they’re the same.” “Millennials are the scourge of the workforce.” “They’re just its newest members.” “Millennials are saving work as we know it.” “They are totally screwing up the way the world approaches work.”

Your opinion of millennials notwithstanding, they are a rapidly growing part of our workforce and by 2020, they’ll be the majority stakeholders. At my company all of my employees are millennials, so I’ve had to build a strategy in how I retain and manage them. Get used to their idiosyncrasies, their demands, their unique working styles and the changes they bring to a stagnant workforce.

Millennials Aren’t Killing Industries. We’re Just Broke and Your Business Sucks

You can say you don’t care, but the only person it hurts is you. Things they are changing and you can increase productivity and efficiency if you simply listen to what these young people are trying to tell you. Attract and retain millennials using these tips:

Find Your Path

Money is nice, benefits are beneficial, but purpose is forever. If your company hasn’t found its purpose and wants to hire millennials, you may as well consider them to be temps. Jobs don’t have to be glamorous if they have meaning behind them. In fact, if your employment brand team, human resources practitioners or hiring managers can find a way to connect meaning to each job within your company and align it with your company’s broader purpose, you win. Purpose motivates millennials even more than a fat paycheck. Show millennials purpose within a role by connecting them to a bigger picture. Show potential hires how a position contributes to the overall success and goals of the business. Take them through the duties step-by-step and illustrate how this particular role contributes to the next step in the process in order to reach the overarching goal.

Teach Them Well

It’s scary to invest in young people without knowing if they’ll stick around for the long haul but it’s worth it. Sixty percent of millennials feel that growth and learning opportunities are a top priority when selecting from different companies. And if you don’t train them, someone else will, and you’ll have invested time and energy into their career development without reaping any of the rewards. Show Gen Y where they can go in your company and give them the educational tools (which have never been cheaper by the way) to get there. For example, invest in employee recognition and feedback. There are a multitude of employee performance software tools available, and this valuable feedback will allow you to develop your employees within your company and their position. This feedback and recognition will boost career development and lead to career opportunities employees may have never thought were possible.

Provide Feedback

Millennials not only want feedback and coaching tips — they need them. Feel like your current annual performance appraisals are a pain? Try weekly face-to-face or email-focused feedback. While this may initially take some time for us seasoned managers to get used to, it’s crucial to millennial growth and their engagement levels. Let’s be honest, there are quite a few issues in the workplace that could stand to be addressed more than just once a year. With the pace of technology and work faster than ever before, it’s natural that performance should keep pace. I always make sure to provide my employees with frequent, real-time feedback. Whether I stop by their desk to give some quick feedback or use our performance management tool, they’re always receiving the recognition and criticism they need.

Mold the Job to the Person

During your constant feedback sessions, ask your employees what they’d rather be doing. And listen. The perfect job for them may be right there in your organization. Listen to what they have to say and start giving them opportunities that they will feel excited about. Are they looking to dabble in other departments? Start by giving them small tasks in that department and track how well they do. You will be surprised at how well they can perform in other areas of the business.

Find Out What’s Going on

Millennials have blurred the line between work and life. It’s not work-life balance. It’s all one jumbled mess. On the plus side, you get someone who is dedicated and engaged around the clock (sort of) and you also can get to know your teammates a little better. Remember when you were young? What were your social goals, financial goals? What did you do for fun and what were your career aspirations? Now go ask your people.

You can resist the millennial force as long as you like, but it’s not going away. The above changes won’t just benefit millennials — they’re useful for all the generations in the workforce and may just make you a better manager.

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Written by:
Maren Hogan is a seasoned marketer and community builder in the HR and Recruiting industry. She leads Red Branch Media, an agency offering marketing strategy and content development. A consistent advocate of next generation marketing techniques, Hogan has built successful online communities, deployed brand strategies in both the B2B and B2C sectors, and been a prolific contributor of thought leadership in the global recruitment and talent space.
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