5 ways to motivate millennials, from millennials

Millennials are often described by their older colleagues and managers as entitled and fickle. A recent study even found many millennials intend to quit their jobs in the next one to five years in search of new experiences. Despite the criticisms that are often associated with the youngest class of workers, those aged 18 to 34 now make up the largest segment of the U.S. labor market, so learning how to attract, retain and develop millennials is in any manager's best interest.

Since 2001, The Go Game, a culture-building business with clients in 25 countries, has taken notice of the cultural evolution of companies around the world, with the most recognizable shifts due largely to the increasing population of millennials in the workplace, according to Entrepreneur

In 2015, The Go Game polled their clients to understand what drives millennials in their work, compared with baby boomers. The found the majority of those aged 21 to 30 (79 percent) believe "team" or "culture" building activities significantly contributed to talent retention, while only 46 percent of baby boomers felt the same. When asked if incorporating team building into company culture was worth the time and effort, 88 percent of millennials said yes, compared with 76 percent of baby boomers.

"As a millennial, a person who manages a team of millennials and a game designer who has produced over 400 interactive experiences for millennials," said Jenny Gottstein, a millennial and director of games at The Go Game, according to the report. "I have discovered a number of key strategies that companies are using to successfully build millennial-friendly cultures and retain top talent."

Here five strategies for retaining and growing millennial employees, according to Entrepreneur.

1. Be generous with trust, autonomy and creative license. Millennials seek the type of environment where they are trusted to make decisions, employ their sense of creativity and discover their own pathways to success.

Additionally, it should be noted that millennials' proclivity for job hopping is not because they are disloyal or purposeless. While they do tend to change jobs more, in most cases, this is because they are "impatient with systems that stifle their ability to innovate, be empowered and ultimately stay happy," according to the report.

Micromanagement is one of the biggest factors that drives a millennial worker to leave his or her job. Their preferred mode of learning is through trial and error, rather than narrow rules.

2. Offer feedback frequently. While millennials desire autonomy and flexibility, they are not for want of accountability. On the other hand, they are keenly interested in how they are performing. Providing regular feedback on their ideas and execution is essential for development.

Managers should not "sugarcoat" feedback, but it should be constructive, according to the report. These conversations will lead to the best outcomes if managers find ways to assure millennials their work is valuable and they are an important member of the team, then steer them in the right direction.

3. Don't be a phony. Millennials have little tolerance for inauthenticity. They value a culture of mutual respect and connect with managers who are both accessible and relatable. 

How do you avoid coming across as insincere? Ms. Gottstein suggests just be yourself, according to the report. If you are going to make a reference to pop culture, make sure you know what you are talking about. If you are just not in touch with millennial culture, don't try to impress people by pretending.

4. Emphasize the value of interpersonal relationships. Millennials like to build ties with their co-workers and managers, so find ways to take down unnecessary barriers. This can be physically — by choosing open office environments instead of cubicles — as well as socially — encouraging employees to attend social and team-building events.

5. Have fun. Millennials prioritize fun in the workplace. "They view their jobs as an extension of their social community and even their identity at times," according to the report. While they don't necessarily wish to become best friends with their employees, setting the groundwork to establish meaningful relationships in the office certainly doesn't hurt.

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