When you Need to Motivate a Millennial Engineer, Think Like One

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Initially, when I started to write this blog post it was going to be about how to motivate millennial engineers, after all, I work for a tech recruiting firm. However, what I discovered is that millennials, no matter what their career path, have similar work needs.

Converse to what many people think, millennials don’t require much to be motivated. First things first, let me clear up any confusion as to what qualifies a person to be part of the millennial generation, roughly anyone 18 to 35, give or take a year; depending on who you ask.

If you’re a non-millennial manager or even a non-millennial in the workforce you don’t want to underestimate the value that comes with understanding them. When considering the fact that by 2020 millennials will make up more than one-half of the US workforce, it’s important to understand them.

Millennials deal with a lot of negative perceptions (much like the generations before them). However, they are unique in that they were born into technology and it’s literally part of their being. Because of the ever-changing way they receive and dispense information, they have an innate nature to keep moving in step with it. Thus they tend to explore their options quicker and more frequently. And, it’s not any different when it comes to the vision they have regarding the jobs they decide to take.
This trait brings into question their commitment to work and the perceived short-term loyalty to employers. Make no mistake; they could care less for things of the past when it comes to the traditional work cultures filled with bureaucracy and hierarchies, but maybe that’s not such a bad thing.

Here are 8 motivators that employers should be aware of to effectively recruit and retain millennials.

1. Trust

Keep in mind, you’re dealing with young people who have put an enormous amount of dedication into their training, and they want acknowledgment for it. The fact is they are the most educated generation of workers so far.

2. Leadership with Direction

What’s your vision boss? They look at themselves as a piece of the puzzle and need to know how their part fits in overall. It creates a sense of value.

3. Sense of Community (Society)

A significant number of people view millennials as self-absorbed. For engineers, this view gets magnified by images of “techies” sitting at a computer, head down, lost in their work. The nature of their work does create that scenario, but on the contrary, a need millennials have is to be involved with issues on a larger scale. Whether it’s a social cause they’re passionate about, organizing a political rally, or recruiting co-workers to run a marathon for a meaningful charity, they value community. Here’s a small caveat, you’re sure to connect with your millennial employee if you allow some of the planning or participation to take place during work hours.

4. A clear career roadmap

Millennials want a clear career path that includes small achievements along the way. Patience is not necessarily a virtue for them, so incremental goals and rewards are good things. Some examples include the change of job title as a metric is met, advancement to team leader, facilitating on-site training, etc.

5. Communication (Feedback and Encouragement)

Can we talk? It’s vital that millennials know how they are progressing on the job and there is a need for them to be rewarded for their accomplishments. If giving something tangible isn’t possible (it doesn’t have to be monetary), they appreciate the verbal acknowledgment. It’s a good idea not to confuse their desire to be acknowledged with a sense of neediness, doing so could make them withdraw and feel undervalued.

6. Work/Life Balance

Millennials enjoy working but also enjoy having the needed freedom to indulge in meaningful activities outside of work. The goal for them is to integrate work and nonwork life rather than having to choose one over the other. Fluid work life is how they function best and the freedom and flexibility to navigate what is a priority to them from day to day is vital. Managers may need to get creative so millennial workers feel like they aren’t giving up the integrated work/life and managers won’t feel like they are compromising work production.

7. Ongoing professional development

The need to continually develop is a job requirement for most millennials. On the job training, seminars, conferences are a must. The more learning options they have access to the better.

8. Autonomy

Although millennials need to have guidance and development they also need to have the freedom within their position to make decisions and work independently. By providing them with a certain degree of decision-making power, they are empowered to utilize and develop their critical thinking skills.