Guest Post: Give millennials what they want

May 31, 2017 -  By

Just this week, I’ve been asked three times for advice on how to motivate millennials in the workplace. In each scenario, the manager told me the problem with this group of employees is they want feedback every week, they are lazy and they aren’t loyal.

OK, let’s assume for a moment all three statements are entirely true.

Millennials want feedback. Feedback plays a critical role in improving performance and helping companies meet their goals as efficiently as possible. Research from Tinypulse, an employee engagement company based in Seattle, shows 42 percent of millennials want feedback from their supervisor every week.

Keep in mind, feedback is different than praise. This statistic doesn’t say that 42 percent of millennials need their egos stroked every week. It says this generation appreciates knowing if they are on right track or if they need to make a course correction to get better results. Regular communication around a project allows teams to change gears quickly when the situation calls for it. It can make companies more competitive in the marketplace.

Feedback can also clarify for all employees the behaviors companies value and want to see repeated. In this way, communication and feedback strengthen the corporate culture.

When was the last time you heard an executive complain that, “Things are going great except for the constant project-related communication! My managers talk to their employees, reward employees with praise for meeting goals and actually coach them when things go wrong.” Ridiculous, right? That sounds like a dream team, not something to complain about.

My advice for motivating millennials who want feedback: Give it to them! Don’t stop there; go crazy. Provide all your employees with feedback that improves their performance and consequently the competitiveness of your entire company.

Millennials are lazy. Research from Gallup suggests employees are engaged at work when they have the opportunity to do things that use their inherent strengths. When workers are placed in jobs they don’t enjoy or that don’t allow them to use their natural talents, they become disengaged at work, which, yes, could be viewed as lazy.

The majority of people, including millennials, are not lazy. It’s human nature to want to contribute and be viewed as a valued members of society. In fact, Forbes reports that when asked, 88 percent of millennials don’t believe in work/life balance. Instead, they are striving for a healthy work/life integration.

This is exactly the opposite of lazy. This generation is willing to work at all hours of the night and day if we trust them to do it. The question is: Are you building teams of people with complementary skills, putting people in the right jobs and providing an environment that supports individuals to meet the objective?

Millennials aren’t loyal. One comment I’ve heard from lots of managers is, “It’s not supposed to be enjoyable, that’s why it is called work.”

Millennials just don’t see it that way. Millennials understand life is too short to be unhappy in a job and unhappy workers are seldom as productive as their happy counterparts. If your millennial employees aren’t sticking around, what aren’t you doing to hold on to them?

Millennials tend to want flexible work schedules. Remember, they want to integrate, not separate, their personal and work lives. They want opportunities to grow and learn, they want to contribute to meaningful projects and they want to work for a company they’re proud of. If your company doesn’t hold those values, you will probably have difficulty hanging on to the best and brightest in this generation.

But then, is it really their fault? 

Millennials make up the largest percentage of the American workforce, and they have a lot to teach us. True, they have things to learn, but instead of sticking our heads in the sand and wishing we didn’t have to adapt to a changing society, let’s drop the resistance and give this new group of employees what they want.

Let’s communicate more in the workplace, make work enjoyable by putting the right people in the right job and recognize that rigidity doesn’t always equal productivity. We might find out that we are all happier, more effective and more able to find business solutions we didn’t know were possible.

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About the Author:

Pari Smart is a Gallup Strengths and Leadership Coach. She owns the Consulting Company, Smart Possibilities. She is a proud Generation X'er who values the skills of all employees in the workplace. If you need more information on coaching the Millennials on your team or getting the most out of all members, check us out at or reach out to Pari at

1 Comment on "Guest Post: Give millennials what they want"

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  1. Loyalty and engagement come from leaders investing in relationships, setting expectations based on innate talent and giving people what the need to succeed. Tell people what they are doing well and help them do what the do best even better- loyalty and engagement will follow!