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By Mary Anne Donovan

8 tips for motivating millennial employees

Millennials: who are they, where did they come from, and how do you motivate them? Simply put, millennials have received a bad rap; they are said to be lazy, entitled, spoiled and fickle. Do they deserve it? Maybe yes, maybe no. One thing is certain, millennials are unequivocally a different, dynamic, and never-before-seen entry into today's workforce. The key is knowing how to motivate them.

What's different about millennials?

Unlike baby boomers and gen-Xers, millennials are unique and different from any previous generation. Born between 1982 and 1996, they grew up in a world that was morphing at lightning speed, where computers, the Internet, video games and cell phones were the norm. They were also the product of overly indulgent parents who insisted their children were the "best," even when they weren't. But at the same time, these parents were busy with their own lives and careers.

How to motivate millennials

Many managers can't relate to, let alone manage and motivate, millennials. The trick is knowing what makes them tick; here are some tricks:

  1. Millennials need to know how they fit into the scheme of things. When they understand the company's mission, vision, goals, and strategies, they align themselves accordingly and take pride in their work and the company.
  2. Millennials need to be treated as individuals: Despite the label, millennials want to be dealt with and respected as individuals and adults, not as a group.
  3. Millennials need meaningful, interesting work: millennials need jobs that require use of their talents, skills and interests. This group is talented in ways not known in previous generations, so it's worth it to find niches where they can contribute their skills and be challenged and happy.
  4. Millennials need collegiality: For them, it's all about relationship. This generation enjoys being friendly with coworkers, customers and suppliers, and sees these relationships as an important part of their lives. They will be the first to participate in company-sponsored, after-work activities, or even initiate their own fun things to do with coworkers.
  5. Millennials need flexibility: This means managers need to be flexible in allowing them to have certain freedoms, such as being able to work from home or allowing flex time for working other than the standard 9 to 5.
  6. Millennials need creative freedom: This can be difficult to manage in larger companies, but the more this group can have input into their work, the more committed and motivated they will be.
  7. Millennials need to hear it like it is: Whatever the message, the communication needs to be straightforward, honest and clear; no ambiguity allowed.
  8. Millennials need regular feedback: This group is not afraid to get feedback about their performance and, in fact, they crave it. Giving frequent feedback, as opposed to waiting for an annual review, gives them direction and motivation.

The millennial generation brings with it an array of creativity and talent never before seen. Finding ways to motivate them may take time and effort, but it will be well worth it.

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