When it comes to motivating Millennials at work, the typical approaches of bonus structures and employee perks don’t work as well as they used to. In this article, we’ll take a look at what does work to motivate the Millennial generation, currently the largest generation in the workforce.
As reported by New York Magazine in their article, How to Motivate Your Employees: Give Them Compliments and Pizza, a study of productivity at an Intel computer chip plant in Israel by Dan Ariely, author of Payoff: The Hidden Logic That Shapes Our Motivations, found that employees were motivated more by pizza and compliments than they were by cash incentives.
At first glance, this would seem to indicate that it’s time to stock the shelves of your breakroom. Brownies, biscottis, and back massages… all you need to do is provide extra “perks” and you’ll be able to keep your employees engaged.
However, when asked what motivated them at work, Millennials reported that having flexible hours and greater work-life balance is important too. The Harvard Business Review takes this a step further in their article, Motivating Millennials Takes More than Flexible Work Policies, highlighting that Millennials also need to work for a company they believe in, and receive consistent communication from their managers to stay engaged.
So what was it about the pizza and compliments that worked to motivate employees at the Intel computer chip factory? Our guess is that it wasn’t the pizza alone. It was the opportunity to sit down with everyone on the team, including the manager, on a regular basis and reflect on their success. Those simple conversations and the positive feedback from managers in the form of compliments proved far more effective than cash in the long run.