Millennials in the workplace have been the subject of intense discussion of late … and with just cause. As of 2015, Millennials now comprise the largest percentage of workers in the workplace (36% in the U.S.). They’ve surpassed the percentage of Baby Boomers in the workplace and their impact is being felt throughout all levels of business and enterprise.

So the key question for business owners, employers and HR professionals is how do we effectively engage with this dominant demographic at work? Does this generation require new thinking about our approach to recognition, rewards and incentive programs?

Their intrinsic motivators may be somewhat different – they’re an optimistic and passionate generation with a desire for lives of purpose.  But I believe the foundations for effective motivation still apply to this generation. They share the universal desire to be acknowledged, appreciated and rewarded for their efforts. However, how we satisfy that need is the essential differentiator that will determine how engaged your Millennial employees will be and how long they will stay with your company.

Give them regular feedback and recognition.

Millennials want immediate feedback. They want to know how they’re doing, if they are positively contributing to their career path, and areas where they can improve. Keep them informed about company goals and be transparent about how their efforts affect the company’s future. Check in with them regularly, provide supportive feedback and constructive advice. Incorporate opportunities for ongoing training and education as part of their career advancement.

Recognize them in the moment with technology.

Millennials are the born-digital generation. They grew up surrounded by technology – the internet, mobile phones, mobile commerce and social media are an essential part of their daily reality. SaaS-based programs such as Power2Motivate make it easy to socialize individual, group and team success across the entire organization, which is the key to building an engaged workforce. Your recognition program should utilize digital apps to acknowledge your employees’ accomplishments right away and encourage peer-to-peer sharing in a collaborative social space.

Keep them in the game.

Gamification applies the mechanics of gaming to nongame activities to change people’s behavior. The key characteristics of games – performance, achievement and social interaction – are built into gamification applications. Power2Motivate adds reward points to the badges employees can earn. This provides an additional layer of recognition for specific performance-based achievements. As a result, badges have both intrinsic and monetary value. Gaming triggers your employees' desire for mastery and completion while providing immediate feedback and social sharing.

As business owners we must continually be committed to finding the best ways to manage, motivate, train and retain our Millennial employees. Harnessing the simplicity, ease and speed of SaaS-based social recognition will help us accomplish that goal within a proven platform.

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