employee engagement
Jan 17'

How to Engage Millennials with An Employee Reward System

With the workforce changing, it is crucial to stay informed on the needs of your employees. Millennials are joining the workforce rapidly and they are becoming one of the largest groups in the workforce today. Due to this, it is crucial to understand how to engage millennials and how to motivate them. Employee recognition can help with this.

Why is it so hard to engage millennials? The employee turnover rate is worsening year by year and the job of a manager is getting more challenging. Not only are they responsible for scoping out and acquiring the best talent, they are also responsible for making sure workers are happy and that employee turnover rates are as low as possible.

An article published by Linkedin has defined a few characteristics of the Millennial worker. One in particular is that they require instant gratification and recognition. Millennials want to feel like they are working towards something and making a difference. This isn't a bad thing, it just means that the work climate needs to continue to adapt to the ever changing workforce. An example of this is to implement an employee recognition program. But that's not the only solution.

We have gathered a list of 5 solutions that you can adapt within your organization to help satisfy and engage your millennial workers.

Solutions to Engage Millennials

1. Share a compelling vision that creates alignment and really engages the team

employee recognition

Is sharing a vision really important? YES! Millennial workers want to feel like what they are working towards is making a difference. The vision is what will guide the company for the years to come and provides them with the big picture of what they are helping to achieve. In Simon Sinek’s ted talk, "Start with why - how great leaders inspire action" he discusses his theory which explains why Apple is so ahead of their competitors. Simon calls it, “The Golden Circle.” Unconsciously companies deliver a marketing message in the following sequence…

1.What -> 2. How -> 3. Why (If applicable)

It’s a logical sequence and there seems to be nothing wrong with it. Alternatively, this is how Apple communicates…

1. Why -> 2. How -> 3. What

People don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it. Watch the Ted Talk video for the full explanation. 

Same idea applies to employees in the work field. By sharing a compelling vision that creates alignment, it will boost engagement and allow workers to see that they are contributing to the company and making a difference. You can share your company vision at many different stages of the employee journey, but a great place to first introduce this is during interviews. This will get the potential candidate excited about the company and see purpose in the job opportunity. By sharing a compelling vision, it helps engage millennials and also ensures that everyone is working together to achieve the same goal.

2. Implement an employee recognition program

employee recognition

Many people feel undervalued at work because they feel the amount of effort they exert is far greater than the result that was achieved. When dedicating long hours and so much effort, receiving praise and recognition is a great feeling.

Many companies express gratitude indirectly by handing out gift cards, coupons, treating employees to dinner and more. The bottom line is they want to show that they value their employees but these forms of recognition may not always be the most effective. What is the best method? Employee recognition that is timely and specific has shown to have the greatest impact and success rate.

In today's society, employee recognition is one of the easiest and most powerful ways for a manager to engage millennials. Employee recognition expert Dr. Bob Nelson says, “Your people feel 5 times more valued when they get recognized for their work. Employees are 6 times more likely to recommend their workplace to others. They are 7 times more likely to stay at an organization and 11 times more likely to commit to their job.

3. Reward employees by helping them achieve the life goals that matter to them

employee engagement

As mentioned in solution 2, too often do entrepreneurs reward their employees with gift cards to coffee shops. The problem is that only 10% of employees value those gift cards. Meaning the other 90% don’t see the value in the gesture. Millennials value different things that other generations do, for example, Millennials are said to appreciate experiences over cash rewards. As stated by QIC, In the world of incentives, it pays to go cashless.

Brian Scudamore is the founder and CEO of O2E Brands. The company started out small and grew to over $100 million in 3 years. In his blog, he suggests,

“Help each other tick a few dreams off our bucket lists. It's not rocket science, but it has transformed our company. People get to know each other outside of work, build powerful bonds, and develop themselves personally and professionally. When employees see their workplace as a springboard to achieving their wildest dreams (instead of an obstacle), they're happier and more productive.”

4. Goal, Set, Review (GSR)

A "GSR" is a set of goals, tasks and questions that are reviewed between a manager and an employee on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. The format could look something like the following.

GSR steps

The purpose of the GSR is to check-in with the employee to see if they are hitting weekly goals and tasks. If not, they can figure out what can be done so that there is improvement for the following weeks. Questions are also formatted so that there is a chance for the manager to get to know the employee better and see how the manager can improve as a leader. It may be time consuming but it's effective. Building trust and relationships between employees and managers doesn’t happen overnight. Doing check in’s like a GSR helps create an open work environment and reduces superiority. Millennials want to work in a team and collaborate, which is what the GSR helps to foster. 

5. Ask what they really want

Sometimes the best solution is to directly ask what the employee is looking for. Not only does it provide feedback regarding current methods of recognition and rewards, it cuts straight to the chase to identify what they really value from an employer. A student who recently graduated from university in their 20s may want more responsibilities and opportunities to learn new skills. A father in his 40s may be looking for work hours that allow him to spend more quality time with his family. With this information, managers can organize and plan ways to satisfy people’s needs. Providing flexibility and catering to each employee will reduce turnover and increase employee engagement. 

Want to learn more about how to reward and recognize your staff? Contact us for a demo.

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