Millennials Aren’t All Bad — If You Know How to Inspire Them

Entrepreneurs often have a love-hate relationship with Millennials, the young professionals born between 1980 and 2000. On the one hand, hiring Millennials is great because they have grown up with cell phones in their hands, have a firm grasp on technology, can adapt well to our ever-changing modern world, and are willing to take risks. Then, there’s the downside: this generation has cultivated a reputation for being entitled, restless, rapt for attention, and even narcissistic.

Leaders have thus been challenged to find ways to engage and inspire these young employees. Like any worker, you need to understand what they value in order to get them to perform at their full potential. I am a firm believer that Millennials are worth the time and effort, and here are some ways you can motivate them at your company.

Express Your Vision

Millennials are looking for meaning in their work. They’re not going to feel content just typing away and putting in the hours without having a grasp on the big picture and how their role fits into that. By explaining the company’s overall mission, you should be able to give them a sense of purpose that will then drive their work and boost their productivity. When your company’s values align with theirs, their passion will be fueled.

Be Transparent

Don’t let them feel left out. Offer Millennials a look inside the company — monthly revenue, management’s goals for the future, what people are working on this week. The more you let them in on, the more involved they will feel and invested they ultimately will be.

Offer Benefits Beyond Salary

Millennials are looking for more than just a paycheck at their job. To attract top talent, go beyond standard compensation and consider offering stock options or equity — this will also help bridge the gap between their ideal salary, as well as give them a real stake in your success. Since the start-up boom, equity has also gained traction in the luring of top talent. As stated, Millennials definitely like to take risks, and if given the opportunity to have a major payout with a stake in a newly launched company, they may be very inclined to leave their comfortable paycheck at a more established firm.

Give Regular Feedback

It may seem like coddling, but this generation requires positive reinforcement. They have a constant need for being noticed. By no means should you take this too far, but simple acknowledgements of their work (a “thank you” will do) or rewards for going above and beyond (not just a “participation trophy”). Find a balance between giving into neediness and offering encouragement. Provide feedback on their performance beyond standard reviews to let them know where they stand and what they can improve upon. Incorporate peer and self-evaluation to give a complete, 360 review.

Be Flexible

One of the best ways to keep a Millennial around is by creating a good work-life balance. Since the digital generation is attached to their devices, they have the ability to be working around the clock — something that will ultimately be a drain on their productivity. Offer flexible work schedules, opportunities to work from home, and a generous amount of vacation/sick days.

Create New Challenges

As Millennials grow within their current position, their talents and interests may begin to alter. Be open to restructuring their job or creating a new position for them in order to keep them engaged and learning new things. Otherwise, after a couple of years, they will be looking to jump ship. Consider bringing in a junior person below them to train or manage, and look for ways that they can mentor or teach others at the company to strengthen their leadership skills.

All of these methods seem perfectly reasonable — they are what would attract and motivate anyone, not just young people. The difference is that Millennials are not quiet about what they want and if it is not available at your organization, they are not going to stick around for very long. You need to figure out how to motivate them in order to retain that young talent.

How do you motivate Millennials at your company?

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