5 Simple Ways to Motivate and Train Millennial Employees

How can you help millennials be productive and contribute to your organization? Use these tips to determine which management approach is best.

Published on 2 December, 2016

by Jessica Thiefels, Entrepreneur and Consultant

The emerging Millennial generation has developed a reputation for arrogance and entitlement in their personal lives and the workforce.

Despite that cultural perception, however, these young professionals do exhibit qualifications that can benefit your company’s bottom line: Millennials are tech-savvy, ambitious, collaborative, and expert multi-taskers. With the right incentives, this age-bracket will accept whatever challenges you present them and find new and creative ways to tackle them.

The real question is: How can you groom millennials into productive and contributing members of your organization? Use the tips below to determine which management approach is best for motivating your up-and-coming business leaders.

Foster an Environment of Creative Freedom

Millennials thrive in situations where they can be innovative and experimental; after all, this is the generation that’s launched twice as many businesses as boomers, according to Forbes. While this isn’t true for all millennials, creating an open environment for these employees to harness that innate drive and creativity is something every business can do and benefit from.

It’s important, however, that this privilege of flexibility and openness doesn’t become abused. Managing this is as simple as making sure that team leads are aware of what projects their employees are working on, what tasks they’re doing to complete it, and more. Weekly check-ins can help you avoid any issues, while allowing your millennial employees to soar.

Allow Millennial Employees to Capture and Map Their IdeasUse an Interactive and Experiential Approach

Millennials prefer hands-on projects that engage their agile minds and kinetic behavior. Stepping back from the computer screen to collaborate on projects ignites their creative process and enthusiasm, allowing them to optimize results.

A simple way to make this a reality in your office is to create a “War Room.” This term, which originates in the military meaning “a room at a military headquarters where maps showing the current status of troops in battle are maintained” has been adopted in business. In your office, this serves as a space for teams and departments to brainstorm, tackle tough problems, and map out the flow of projects.

Make sure there’s access to whiteboards, sticky notes and more, allowing your Millennial employees to capture and map out all of their ideas.

Value Empowerment over Micromanagement

Millennials respond to employers who trust in their capabilities and encourage them to learn from mistakes. In fact, 44 percent of young professionals report discontent with supervisors who micromanage rather than mentor. Not only do millennials dislike it, but this management style is also not conducive to a productive workplace, “People need to be trusted if they want to operate properly and bring about change to the company,” according to 5 Ways Managers Can Help Boost Employee Productivity.

Instead of micromanaging, focus on modifying management styles in ways that provide direction and loose structure. Thanks to technology, this is easier than ever. For example, tools like Slack or HipChat make it easy to stay in communication with employees without being overbearing.

Don’t Treat Social Media as a Workplace Distraction

Millennials are passionate about forming global connections through technology and social media. This ingrained knack can help your business reach a broader audience. Instead of demanding that they unplug from Facebook during office hours, utilize their networking smarts to expand your client base.

Purchase LinkedIn Premium accounts for salespeople, or anyone in business development and ask their advice about the best conferences to go to, or webinars to attend. There are a variety of “online” conferences happening now that your employees may have read about and are interested in attending.

Don't Treat the Use of Social Media as a Workplace Distraction for Millennial EmployeesPut an Emphasis on Positive Reinforcement

Millennials need more acknowledgment and recognition than generations before them., These frequent check-ins allow them to stay up to date with how they’re doing within the company while feeding their need for instant gratification.

A simple rewards program can be all the motivation you need. In fact, companies who implement this have reported a 14 percent boost in employee performance. Focus on prizes that are paid for, such as lunch paid for by the company, and free, or even some extra PTO.

Understanding how millennials tick is the first step in motivating them to work harder at work. These employees need guidance, validation and freedom in order to discover their own potential and do their best work for you. Consider how you can use these ideas to motivate your millennial employees and improve the business as a whole.

About the Author: Jessica Thiefels has been writing and editing for more than 10 years and spent the last five years in marketing. She recently stepped down from a senior marketing position to focus on growing her own startup and consulting for small businesses. She’s written for sites such as Lifehack, Manta, StartupNation, Quantum Workplace and more. Follow her on Twitter @Jlsander07 for more small business insights.

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