Building brands in a changing society

Keeping Millennials Motivated in the Workplace

Advertising agencies tend to be staffed with small armies of twentysomething year olds, equally prepared to work long hours as they are to stay in constant communication with their peers via social media all day long. Add to that a creative work environment where personal expression is strongly encouraged and agencies quickly become a place where Millennials can be truly at home. The only challenge is that the work, often routine and unglamorous, still needs to get done.

For this reason, I found Andrew Bridge’s Globe and Mail article, Ten ways to motivate the next generation of workers, to be inspiring.  Bridge is the managing director of Virgin Mobile Canada, a brand focused on reaching the youth demographic.  He offers advice for managers of younger staff who aren’t satisfied with just a paycheck. Instead, this generation is looking for work that offers interesting challenges, encourages risk taking, and provides exposure to a range of opportunities instead of staying in the same role for years.

All ten tips were helpful; the following are my interpretation of those that I found to be particularly useful:

1. Help them make a difference. Millennials want to know that their employer is helping, in some way, to make the world a better place. In fact, a PricewaterhouseCoopers study found that 88% of Millennials will choose employers whose social responsibility values reflect their own – and 86% would consider leaving if the company’s values no longer matched their expectations.

2. Know that social media is here to stay. Millennials don’t distinguish as cleanly between work and play as earlier generations, and social media helps them do both. I’ve had an employee openly say that she preferred to spend time in the morning catching up with her network online and then staying late to get the job done. The point is that social media is considered an indispensable communication tool by Millennials and needs to be understood as such by their managers.

3. Make the opportunities clear. Millennials have an appetite for ongoing change and challenge. While it’s simply not feasible to grant a Gen Y employee a promotion every year, managers would do well to present a range of opportunities that assist in developing new skills. Help Millennials look beyond the corporate ladder and see it as a career lattice instead.


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