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How to Attract, Motivate & Retain Millennials in the Workplace

Published June 2017

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Although there is no official defined period, the term ‘millennial’ is most frequently used to refer to those born between the early 1980s and the late 1990s. According to Inkling Millennial Report 2015, Millennials now make up a quarter of the UK population and are predicted to hit the 17 million mark by 2019, making millennials the largest generational group in the workforce today.

So, who are the millennial generation?

According to Rachel Hosie, writing for the independent, there are two very distinct types of millennials: those born before or during 1986 and those born afterwards. Why is this important? Rachel explains that “it's all based on what age you were when the financial crash of 2008 hit, which has undeniably affected the worldview of a generation.”

Those born during or before 1986 are more likely to have finished their education, and would in all likelihood have already started their career, when the financial crash hit. Those born after this date were aware whilst still growing up that the world had changed and that success wasn’t going to come so easily.

But this isn’t the only reason why the older and younger millennials are different. The speed of technological change between 2000 and 2017 has been dramatic. Rachel explains that older millennials had already entered the workplace by the time the internet and smart phones reached the masses. They know how to work without them, whereas, younger millennials know nothing else.

So why is this generation so important?

Millennials have gained a bad reputation in recent years and are often referred to as the 'entitled generation'. However, millennials have a lot to offer employers and certain traits that may be perceived as a weaknesses, could actually be strengths: 

  • Millennials are the first truly digital generation. Yes, they spend a lot of time online, but this is a real advantage when it comes to technology and the speed of technological change we are currently seeing. If you’re looking for ways to improve efficiencies or if you’re working in a disruptive sector then your millennial workers can really make a difference to your success, spotting new trends and getting to grips with new software solutions.
  • Millennials are widely considered to be the most innovative generation. This is perhaps why so many tech start-ups are founded by or staffed by millennials. The good thing for employers is that they’re not afraid to speak up or to make suggestions for change, adding value to any group discussions. Take advantage of their fresh perspective when looking for new solutions.
  • Millennials have a reputation for being impatient. They’re used to an instant world, where everything is available at the push of a button or the click of a link. However, this quality makes them determined, ambitious and tenacious in the workplace. They are always looking for a quick solution, they’re not afraid to get stuck in or to ask for what they want.

Millennials in the Workplace:

So now we understand the importance of the millennial generation, how can you create a culture that attracts and motivates this group so that you can improve staff retention and loyalty and get the most from your workforce. 

Katie Hope writing for the BBC says “younger workers aren't motivated by the same factors as previous generations, such as a job for life, but instead value a good work life balance and a sense of purpose beyond financial success.” Consequently, managers may have to adapt their approach to attract and retain staff from this generation.

How to Attract, Motivate and Retain Millennials:

Because of their view on employment, millennials are challenging the status quo when in comes to incentives. Money no longer talks with other employment benefits leading the way when it comes to attracting, motivating and retaining millennial workers.

Richard Branson, who is known for his unconventional and innovative approach to business and marketing says that he hopes that by making work a more pleasant place to be and by offering more flexibility; such as the ability to dress down, work from home or part-time, and take unpaid leave if they wish, he will attract people to his companies and encourage them to stay and fulfil their potential.

So here are our top tips for attracting, motivating and retaining millennial workers:

  • Focus on Personal Development: 65% of millennials surveyed said the opportunity for personal development was the most influential factor in a job with 25% seeing training and development as the biggest benefit provided by an employer.
  • Create a Values Based Culture: Nathan Blecharczyk, co-founder of Airbnb says "Millennials are known to be more purpose-driven, so as a company both internally and externally we're always communicating what our values are and trying to be true to those things." 
  • Get them Involved: Millennials enjoy finding creative solutions to problems. Find opportunities to include them in projects, ask their opinions, and let them help to identify and solve problems. By ensuring that your employees feel valued, you will increase employee engagement and improve retention rates.
  • Provide Meaningful Feedback: Millennials want regular feedback from their managers. Lauren Bearman argues that millennials want to be inspired by their boss, looking to them for encouragement and instruction. Invest your time now to get the most from your millennial workers.
  • Reward Good Performance: Choosing the right rewards is essential. Experiences mean much more to millennials than cash incentives. In fact an Ipsos MRBI study showed 65% of the 18-34 year olds surveyed were driving the “Experience Economy” through buying real life experiences instead of material possessions. Make the most of this by organising a team away day to celebrate your team's successes or simply add some exciting and original team building activities to enhance your next conference day.

With the number of millennials in the workplace set to increase, adapting the way you work to suit millennials' strengths is a great way to ensure long term business success. For more information about how Aim for the Sky could help you to inspire and motivate your staff, please contact us, or check out our related articles below.

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