03/07/2014

By Christopher W Cabrera, founder, president and CEO of Xactly, leader in cloud based incentive solutions

What motivates the millennials? The generation that grew up alongside Facebook, Harry Potter and Britney Spears now makes up a third of the workforce – and will account for 50% of it by the end of the decade. As such, the corporate world shaped by previous generations is quickly changing. And the new generation may like what they’ve done with the place, or may have something a little more ‘millennial’ in mind.

As the CEO of a multi-generational company, I constantly see that in the world of six-second Vine videos, endless Facebook News Feeds and relentless selfies – this generation is not satisfied getting feedback only once a year during annual performance reviews.

This process needs to be augmented with near real-time feedback on their individual progress, goals, strengths and opportunities for improvement to keep them motivated. When dealing with a generation who believe the biggest barrier to innovation is management’s attitude, here are three ideas on how to engage them effectively.

1. Provide on-going and specific feedback
Frequent, specific feedback motivates employees to perform at a higher level. This isn’t about completely scrapping the current review process in place, but rather finding ways to augment it for a multi-generational workforce with regular feedback and updates. Add some fun elements to monthly team meetings to recognise and reward individual, as well as group efforts.

2. Embrace digital
We are living in the digital age, so why are some performance review processes still done on paper? Most of today’s workforce grew up with at least one game console in the house. Companies should explore gamification tools that engage and provide feedback to employees in real time to help achieve that coveted ‘high score’. Try to find an app that is mobile and browser ready to ensure adoption amongst millennials and other generations alike.

3. Use a combination of long and short-term incentives
Rome wasn’t built in a day, and not every professional goal is achievable in the same timeframe. Set a variety of goals for employees over a month, a quarter, and a year, and make sure that the rewards reflect the achievements. That way your employees will strive for the little wins as well as the big ones, and won’t feel disengaged when they have to wait six months each time to reap the benefits of their hard work.

It’s worth taking some time to identify the different generations in your workplace, and review how best to address their needs and values, to unlock their potential.

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