There has been a lot of discussion lately around how to motivate Millennials, perhaps the fastest growing segment of the working population. Everybody has their own ideas, but personally I think it’s part science, part company culture, and part well-structured incentive program that will help foster millennial engagement. In my opinion, all three elements are interdependent.
There are hundreds of studies that reflect scientific research on employees, corporate culture, and what drives certain behaviors, but I don’t have the time (or the word-count) to repeat all of those findings here today. What I would like to focus on instead is one of the most important takeaways that I’ve come across: generally happy employees will create a positive corporate culture. Pretty basic, right?
Believe it or not, Millennials can influence your corporate culture like few other demographics can—they have the power to walk away quickly from an environment which they perceive as toxic or unfulfilling, and this could impact your company in a negative way. Recognizing this new reality should make it clear how critical it is to ensure that your employees are feeling truly appreciated. It’s also important to make sure they are aligned with your company values, and experience recognition on a regular basis. Of course, this is true of all employees, but especially Millennials, who in many ways will control the future of your organization. Your job as an owner, senior executive, or VP is to create an environment where employees are encouraged and rewarded for contributing positively to the overall culture.
Now that we know happier employees are willing to go the extra mile and have an optimistic positive attitude, how can we build this culture of genuine happiness and camaraderie at our company?
I’d like to offer ten elements that can help you sow the seeds of corporate happiness through employee incentives, recognition, and rewards. Incentive Magazine published an article laying out 10 Tried-and-True Tips for Effective Employee Recognition, and here’s my take on the first five:
1. Plan with a Solid Strategy
One key to a solid strategy is clearly defined expectations. It’s important for employees to understand what’s asked of them and how their performance is lining up with the company’s overall mission. When expectations are clearly defined, it’s easier for employees to reach their goals and for your company to keep moving forward.
2. Communicate Clearly and Often
If you want a goal to gain momentum and be successful, take the time to communicate with your employees about the program, and whether or not they are on the right track. It is also important to clearly outline any rules or regulations so that employees know what the expectations are (see #1) to avoid frustration!
3. Deliver On-the-Spot Rewards
Rewards are always a great tool for incentivizing your employees, but don’t make them wait too long to receive what they’ve already earned.
4. Entice With Relevant Rewards
5. Develop a Fair and Justified Rules Structure
When goals are set too high, often times people don’t even try to reach them. This is especially true of Millennials – they will immediately recognize that something is outside of their reach and instead focus their efforts elsewhere.