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How to Manage & Motivate Millenials

Today's workforce sees millennial employees in one of two lights: As incompetent and lazy, or as the key to fresh, innovative ideas. However, regardless of their stances on the matter, company heads have to acknowledge that this generation will themselves one day be the leaders of businesses.

Millennials are shaking things up and trying to redefine the way companies do business. It's important to understand that they aren't just showing up to the office for a paycheck - they're a generation driven by an altruistic business model and the idea that they can be making a difference in the world. They're concerned about social and political issues.

With this in mind, it's clear that millennials are changing general workforce practices. But one question remains: How are older generations adapting their management styles to them?

What Motivates Millenials

Every business is desperate to find the solution to effectively managing and motivating millennial employees. But somehow, leaders are still finding themselves stumped. In fact, a recent Gallup Poll found that millennials are only 28.9% engaged in their work. What is the reasoning behind this?

Millennials are intuitive - they feel the "us vs. you" dynamic, meaning they can read through superfluous management techniques. Inc. Magazine published the findings of a study from WorkplaceTrends.com, that explained millennials would rather have a collaborative work environment. This kind of workspace is more supportive than a more traditional, rigid management structure.

If this is the type of structure this generation craves, how can managers adjust their motivational processes?

Culture building company The Go Game set out to study millennial motivation in the workplace via interactive activities, testing big name clients including Facebook, Google and Netflix, explained Entrepreneur. Interestingly enough, they found that both millennials and baby boomers thought culture building activities helped retain talent. What does this mean for management?

Millennials want a fun work environment, personalized connections and clear communication

This generation is ready to take the work out of work, and wants to make their office environment fun. That doesn't mean they don't value professionalism, however. More than anything, millennials just want to be taken seriously. They want to feel like someone is taking stock in them. They desire a mentor who is going to take them under their wing and show them the ropes, but they also need freedom to create their own ideas. That being said, keep in mind that the internet has heavily influenced this generation. They're used to having quick, personalized feedback and satisfaction.

Millennials are a complicated bunch, but not impossible to understand. It's a give and take process - so how do you balance their needs?

It's not that they necessarily want their hands held, but a little reward for a job well done will go a long way. Experts are finding that effective ways to motivate this young workforce are a mix of gratitude-based gift giving and clear objectives. Together they create a perfect partnership of direction for good work and that instant satisfaction that millennials so crave.

However, your motivational gift giving can't be superfluous, lest your good intentions come off as patronizing. Millennials just want to be recognized for their hard work and earn loyalty from their boss.

Reward millennials with intangible motivational offerings

What are you currently offering your employees for a job well done? It's important to understand that when it comes to loyalty, millennials will feel more valued and trusted when you respect their work-life balance. This means offering incentives like flexibility, work-from-home hours and unlimited paid time off.

However, they also yearn for open communication from their superiors - verbal feedback on how their performance is going. Ultimate software found that 42% of millennials desired progress reports every single week. This goes back to employee desire to feel like the company is invested in their individual professional development. A weekly touch base can be a good environment for millennials to share their ideas for the company with structured guidance from a superior. Communication is so important to this generation that many employees will leave a company because of a disengaged boss.

Flexibility and WFH

Offering flexible work hours and time to work from home shows your employee that you value his or her time. If they have a conflict at home, no worries. If they have a doctor's appointment, no stress about missing time off work.

Training sessions

As mentioned earlier, millennials want to feel like your company is putting effort into their professional career. By offering training sessions about something like new industry practices, you're giving them the tools they need - and want - to be successful.

Unlimited PTO

Similar to flexible hours, unlimited paid time off show employees that you value their time, and their work ethic. You give them as much time as they need off because you trust they will get the work done.

Millennials want motivational gifts and awards

Instant gratification is essential to making employees feel like they're valued on your team. Entrepreneur explained that millennials need less long-term incentive to work harder - like promotions or titles - but instead crave more frequent and tangible awards.

Therefore, it's a good idea to reward employees with gifts related to their hard work. Recognizing their hard work is easy, and can be fun depending on how creative you get with it. Looking for some inspiration? Here are a couple of fun gift ideas that reward day-to-day deeds:

For dedicated service

If your employee stayed late or really went the extra mile on his or her last presentation, reward them with a motivational memo box. This gift acknowledges special dedication to the team and gives them more tools to continue to keep up the good work.

For staying late

It can be hard to find an employee who puts in extra hours with a smile on his or her face, so a stainless tumbler for all the extra coffee they need will show how their hard work doesn't go unnoticed.

For pleasing the client

Your company is nothing without your clients - so if they're giving your employee gratification, you better be too. Since your employee is a master communicator, give him a personalized iPhone stand so he can continue to be on top of everything.

For always being on time

You never really appreciate someone until they're always there for you no matter what. If you have an employee who is always on time, why not celebrate her with a personalized clock so she can continue to be perfectly punctual.

For being a good teammate

Let's face it, you value your employees as people too, otherwise work would be, well, work. Why not give them gifts and rewards that are Teamwork Themed? This will re-enforce teamwork and be a becon for others.

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