Want To Reward Millennials? Get Personal

Like it or not, Millennials are now the dominant group in today’s workforce, comprising some 34% of the total, a figure that’s only going to increase over time.

It matters because attracting and keeping Millennials on your team has proved challenging for today’s managers. They are a breed apart, and the traditional rewards that worked (and continues to work) for prior generations don’t seem to have much of an impact on Millennials.

Ask a dozen experts on the topic why, and you’re likely to get a dozen different answers. From a practical perspective though, the reasons don’t really matter. What matters is finding something that works, and for Millennials, what works are personalized experiences as rewards.

Forget gift cards and generic “thank yous.” Those things will leave Millennials cold and feeling unappreciated. No, if you really want to excite and inspire them, you’re going to have to dig deep, and go above and beyond.

“Digging deep” doesn’t have to mean spending tons of money (though it easily can mean that), but it does mean you’ve got to put some real thought into your gifts and awards for recognition. You’ve got to spend time really getting to know your Millennial employees to discover what they’re passionate about, and give them something that speaks to them on a personal level.

If you have a Millennial employee who loves creative writing, and does it in his spare time, then an engraved leather-bound notebook with a hand written note from you tucked inside the front cover would dazzle. If you want to kick it up a notch, then springing for a creative writing seminar, or tickets to go hear one of his favorite authors speak would be an amazing experience.

In a similar vein, if you have a Millennial employee who’s something of an adventurer, then a kayaking or whitewater rafting trip would be far more meaningful than a generic gift card.

If you have a family-oriented employee, then tickets to a ballgame or concert (depending on where his interests lay), for him and his father/mother/wife would be an amazing way to show your appreciation.

The simple truth is that we ask a lot of today’s employees. We expect them to be “always on,” and available whenever, and wherever we need them, and by and large, they are, but they want something in return.

Just as they pour themselves, their time and their energies into making your business a thriving success, they expect you to be there for them. To enrich their lives by giving them access to experiences that are important and exciting to them.

If you treat them well, they’ll treat you well.

If you find yourself thinking that all that sounds like too much effort, you’re probably going to struggle in the years ahead, because you’ll consistently shed Millennial employees, while your competitors who take the time to give them rewards that excite them will retain all the best talent, which will put you at an increasing strategic disadvantage. Don’t let that happen to your business!