By Jon Hainstock
With many millennials now in their late 20s and early 30s, they are fast becoming the primary workforce demographic.
Some managers and executives have been scratching their heads, unsure of how to nurture and retain their best talent over the long haul. As it turns out, millennials aren’t that different – they just have certain needs and eccentricities that may not have been entirely characteristic of generations past.
Here are seven appreciation strategies to show your young workers you care.
- Offer recognition and rewards
This isn’t a nice-to-have in a corporate culture full of millennials – it’s essential. A strong recognition system keeps workers motivated and feeling like their contribution matters and is worthwhile.
Generation Y also wants to know there is a viable career path ahead of them. Let them know about possible promotion opportunities as they become available, and don’t just pay lip service.
- Provide incentives
Raises and bonuses are nice. But financial rewards might not be enough to keep your young talent engaged.
Millennials are growth-focused. They want to be promoted, and they want to keep learning and uncovering new skills and talents. It doesn’t take much work to set up an online eLearning program or digital library for team members that want to go beyond the call of duty.
When you appreciate their need for growth and supply them with the right tools, they’ll begin to thrive in your organization.
- Give feedback and show appreciation
In our increasingly connected world, people are used to being recognized sooner and more often than in times past. All they need to do is post a status update on Facebook, and they may have a dozen responses or more within minutes of posting.
Managers need to be mindful of their staff. It has often been said that recognition should be immediate, specific, and public, but this is fast becoming expected with generation Y.
This goes hand-in-hand with the previous point on giving feedback. You must tailor your message to your audience, and if you know nothing about them, this is impossible. You must get to know your workers and what motivates them if you want to show appreciation in a way that’s relevant to them.
This goes for every other item on this list. You need to offer personalized rewards, incentives, and feedback. It shouldn’t be general or aimless, it should be directed at the individual, tailored to the individual, for maximum effect.
As a manager, you need to make a personal connection with your employees.
Millennials often aren’t looking at what it means to work for a company, they’re thinking about what it’s like to work for a specific manager.
If they don’t favor management, it’s not beyond the scope of possibilities that they’ll begin considering new jobs.
- Give them a purpose
As a manager, you may know exactly what the value of each of your employees is. But they may not. Millennials want a greater purpose to work towards, and carefully consider whether the organization they’re working for is making a positive difference in the world or not.
There are many ways to help your workers understand why their work is valuable. One way is to show how they contributed to a certain result – revenue generated, clients served, results obtained, and so on.
But you can also implement a volunteer program, which demonstrates your care for things outside of the walls of the company. Volunteerism can also foster better teamwork, help your team members uncover hidden talents, and can even make them happier in the workplace.
- Encourage collaboration
Relationships factor heavily into how millennials feel about their work and their willingness to stay with the organization. As it has often been said, birds of a feather flock together, so negative people have a tendency of finding each other, and likewise positive people. But positive people certainly can have an impact on negative people.
When people collaborate on a project, they feel a greater sense of purpose. Every person has a responsibility to do their part. Working together in this way can bring greater fulfillment to their daily responsibilities.
- Implement tech solutions
Millennials have grown up with the internet, and tend to embrace mobile technology in their daily lives. This has its pros and cons, but there is a way for managers and executives to take advantage of this trend.
For example, you can use an app like BUZZ, which has been built specifically for recognizing millennial workers. You could also send SMS/text messages or create a wall of fame in Slack or your project management system. This allows your feedback and praise to be more immediate, and in the expected form.
This doesn’t mean you should slack off with face-to-face recognition, but it does mean you can leverage everything at your disposal to show your appreciation.
As much as millennials are forward-thinking, they are also traditional. Job security, in fact, has risen as a common demand among younger workers. Being aware of their needs makes it easy for you to make your workers aware of relevant opportunities that are available to them.