Avoiding culture shock: 4 ways to motivate millennials

| By:
Kathy Smith

2015 is the year of the millennials—people between the ages of 18 and 35—when they’ll officially overtake baby boomers as the nation’s largest living generation. By 2020, they’ll make up nearly half of your workforce.

Not to worry.

They can be some of your most valued employees if you take the time to understand what makes them tick. And if there’s one thing that’s fueled our success and my passion since joining ConnectWise in 2007, it’s creating a culture that breeds innovation and fun.

Why? Because happy employees naturally produce great results.

Work/life balance is high on millennials’ list of priorities. While it might take a little more creativity, the more you can make them feel like their job isn’t work by fostering a family atmosphere, the more they’ll step up to the plate.

Here are four tips from our playbook on how you can create a winning culture and inspire your entire team to do their best work.

1. Change it up

Providing fun opportunities for everyone to get to know one another out of the office goes a long way toward creating an engaged team that embodies your culture. Plan quarterly events where they can participate in a variety of activities—seeing a movie, bowling, going to a sporting event—maybe even volunteering together.

You’d be surprised how something as simple as management treating them to lunch can make a difference.

2. Say thanks

Everyone wants to be appreciated—especially for something you spend so much of your time doing. For millennials, a sense of accomplishment is one of their top job criteria. There are many ways to recognize your employees for a job well done. They cost so little, some are even free, and the payback is priceless.

Here are three to get you started:
  • Simply say thank you—and mean it
  • Reward them with gift cards for meeting milestones in record time or completing a critical project ahead of schedule
  • Create a ‘Wall of Awesome’ to recognize employees for going that extra mile—even come up with fun awards like ‘Best Dressed’ or ‘Most Likely to Be Caught Helping Others’
3. Give them a voice

Employees want to feel empowered to do their best and make a positive impact, particularly millennials who just happen to be some of your most creative and diverse workers. Why not give them every opportunity to put their unique spin on things? Here are a few suggestions:

  • Get them involved.

We all answer to someone, but being part of the process makes us feel like we’re an integral part of the team. Include employees in goal-setting and decision-making to show them that their perspective matters.

  • Create an innovation council.

There’s more than coffee brewing in your break room. You’d be surprised how many smart ideas are percolating, too. All they need is a place to filter through them. Think about forming a small council where employees can present their ideas to leadership—then let them take the ball and run with the ones that have legs.

  • Have a true open-door policy.

Make sure your employees feel safe about communicating issues. Don’t just say it, demonstrate it over and over, so they know it’s for real and not just on paper.

4. It starts with you

As the fearless leader, it’s up to you to set the example. Your company’s core values must be visible in every aspect of your organization—both with visual reminders and in daily actions. How about creating a column (or poster) within your office, maybe several, that proudly displays your core values?

You can also help new employees start out on the right foot by making sure you communicate details about your culture during new-hire training's.

Culture aligns your team with your core values. With a solid foundation, the next step is learning more about the business side of running a powerful help desk.