According to a survey by Deloitte, the Millennial generation, or Generation Y, will make up 75% of the workforce by 2025. As this generation are now maturing in the workplace, it's important for company directors and HR professionals to learn how to motivate Generation Y employees. But this needn't be difficult, as we'll explore below with these five things your company should be doing.
Provide regular feedback and mentoring
As Simon Sinek explained back in December, Millennials grew up in an era of instant gratification. Want to watch Marco Polo? Binge watch it on Netflix. Feeling down? Post something on Instagram and watch the likes come in. Need a date? Just swipe right.
Almost everything these days is instant, apart from job satisfaction, which is why Sinek believes so many millennials feel they are 'not making an impact', despite only just starting their careers. As a result, they become disengaged.
So, what can businesses do to help keep their younger employees on-track and motivated? No, it's not a case of making all their career goals come true at once - it simply comes down to ensuring progress is reviewed regularly in a structured way.
Help your employees to see where they are heading in their careers by giving them a long-term goal to work towards. Could you see them eventually running the department they're working in? Or taking the lead on certain parts of the business? Tell them in their next review and with their agreement, formalise it as a goal for them to work towards. Then check in with them regularly, for example, every quarter, to give constructive criticism and praise on their achievements while reminding them about that ultimate goal they have.
So why is this important? Regular progress catch-ups help to add that sense of instant gratification to the workplace, offering millennials proof that in fact, they are making an impact and progressing in their careers.
Share important wins with the team
Staying on the theme of instant gratification, sharing news about your team members' contribution to important projects is a great way to help boost motivation by giving them recognition for their efforts.
For example, when a project has just been completed, send around an email to the company to keep them up to speed with how the project went and give individual praise to members of the team on their specific contributions.
This can have a positive impact on motivation, as it's an instant way of recognising that they're making an impact. Special praise on tough projects every so often can help to reinforce the impact each team member has made on the outcome for the business, building on their sense of purpose, as well as offering small milestones that show progress on their way to their longer-term goals.
Give them the chance to shine with additional responsibilities and training
Deloitte's 2015 millennial survey reveals that only 28% of millennials feel that their current organisation is making full use of their skills - meaning a majority feel underutilised in the workplace.
Yes, on the face of it, this could be interpreted as a misplaced sense of entitlement, or overly impatient for a promotion to a job they're not ready for yet, but in fact, it really comes down to training.
As we've seen, delayed gratification isn't something that comes naturally to millennials. This generation wants to work as hard as any previous generation, but if it appears there's no route to progress in their role, landing their perfect job or the salary they've always dreamed of seems impossible, so it's no wonder their motivation falls off a cliff.
The way to remedy this is to focus on ensuring there's a clear development path set out for your rising stars. If your young talent feel they could offer so much more, then give them a chance to prove it - you might be surprised at their results. Give team members a chance to head up a new project that excites them, while being mentored by a more senior member of staff.
On top of that, a structured training scheme shows there is real belief in that individual, as real investments are being made into their personal growth. The result is a happy, motivated and loyal employee who's willing to go the extra mile.
Let your team use the best technology for the job
According to recent research, a whopping 81% of employees said that having access to state-of-the-art technology at work was their most important office perk. Having high-spec laptops to work on benefits not just millennials, but people at all levels in the business. That's because a fast computer helps people to get their tasks done more efficiently than an older, slower model.
On top of that, research by Adobe suggests that when a company's technology is "ahead of the curve", employees feel twice as creative, motivated and valued than those who felt their company was "behind the times".
Technology is especially important for millennials, as the first generation who grew up with technology as we know it today. It's not an extra - it's an essential part of life that can help make things easier, faster and more efficient, both inside and outside the workplace.
Offer flexible working environments
A final thing that millennials want from their workplace is flexibility. This comes down to how they were raised by their baby boomer parents, according to Shara Senderoff, CEO of Intern Sushi. Their parents taught them that their opinions are important, so they expect to have a stake in outcomes.
If a manager asks a Generation X employee to jump, the employee jumps and then asks, "Was that high enough?" But if a manager asks a millennial employee to jump, the employee is more likely to raise an eyebrow and ask, "Why...?"
So how does this relate to flexibility in how people work? Millennials are more likely to question authority, particularly on arbitrary corporate rules like the nine to five working day, rules on working at home, and holiday allowances.
One of the issues is that such inflexible rules on working hours contradict the advances in technology over the last couple of decades. For many office-based roles, there is no real reason why working from home should not be an option, thanks to ubiquitous fast internet and online collaboration tools. Can adults not be trusted to work independently and do what's best for the business with their time?
As a result, if your business still enforcing rules like this, your millennial employees are likely to be severely disappointed. Consider giving employees the option to telecommute when it's convenient, such as on days when they're not required for meetings. Or let employees choose their working hours, such as earlier or later than the standard nine to five, or even compressing their working hours into four days instead of five. As long as they are doing their duties, does it matter when and where they are working?