June 3rd, 2014 by Michael Smalls

Motivate Millennial Employees

Millennials Want Meaningful Work

Millennials Want Meaningful WorkThis is the second in a series of five posts about managing and motivating Millennials.

The Millennial generation is a walking contradiction in many ways. Various studies show them to be simultaneously jaded and optimistic. They want to be well-compensated, but they don’t want their jobs to be just about making money. They are willing to work, but on their terms.

Millennials reject the “greed is good” concept celebrated in movies like “The Wolf of Wall Street”. Instead, they prefer to have meaningful jobs that provide opportunities to effect positive change in their communities and the world at large. According to a study by Callingbrands.com, employees feel 64 percent more loyal to companies that aim to do more than just earn a profit.

A study by The Intelligence Group reports that 64 percent of Millennials would rather earn $40,000 a year at a job they love than $100,000 a year at a job they find unfulfilling. The Intelligence Group’s Jamie Gutfreund studies generational trends and differences. She says, “Millennials were raised with a different perspective.” They need to see how the companies they work for are making the world a better place, and how they can contribute to those efforts.

Key #2 to Managing and Motivating Millennial Employees: Show Them the Higher Purpose

As a manager, you need to reinforce your company’s mission and emphasize the ways in which your staff can make a positive impact on the world. You need to show your employees–particularly the Millennials–how their specific jobs can help accomplish this. Barry Salzberg, global CEO of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited, writes in his Forbes.com article, “We need to do more to connect the dots for Millennials, showing them the deeper global dynamics of the business enterprise.”

Which of society’s challenges is your business helping to solve? For example:

  • If your customers are in the health care industry, how does your company help them do a better job? How many more patients can they serve because they do business with you?
  • Maybe your business is helping to decrease the unemployment rate. Has your company created jobs in a new market?
  • How is your company contributing to social causes and nonprofits? Do you have a donation or volunteer program in place?

It’s not necessary that your company cure cancer or end world hunger. But, think about how you’re helping those customers that are more directly serving people’s needs.

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Michael Smalls

About Michael Smalls

Michael Smalls is the founder and CEO of Hoopla. He has more than 25 years of experience in the technology industry as a sales executive at several startups, and as a leader of a variety of teams at larger companies. Prior to Hoopla, Michael was Executive Vice President at ClickEquations, a SaaS paid search platform for large advertisers and agencies. In 2004, he joined the founding team of Turntide, an innovative anti-spam company, as VP of Sales. TurnTide was acquired by Symantec, where Michael became Director of Emerging Products Sales. Earlier in his career, Michael held sales management roles at innovative startups like Destiny Software and Kurant (acquired by eBay), and at Symantec as it grew from $50 million to over $650 million in sales.

  • PoeDiggity

    I can see that… millennial have been awarded with more knowledge about our world in general from a young age, and have a special sense of humanity and cool apathy at the same time. Trying to get through to them is definitely a challenge if you are not from that era. I’d say the best way to inspire them is to make them feel like they are a part of something interesting and note-worthy.

  • Scott Leese

    I think we solve this by creating companies that are attacking real issues in the coming years.

  • Mike Massimi

    Let’s ensure that the Senior management is taking this onboard, there is a real need for change in how we recruit and engage with our staff.

  • Dustin Klea

    As part of the insurance industry our company has always tried to impress upon the employees the impact they are making by getting people affordable coverage. They do this largely by sharing stories. Occasionally they will bring some of the agents we brokered

  • Aaron Kelly

    I like the article although I wonder how well The Intelligence Group survey was done. To say “64 percent of Millennials would rather earn $40,000 a year at a job they love than $100,000 a year at a job they find unfulfilling”, seems like a stretch. I would wonder if there was bias applied or things like, was the survey given anonymously, what other questions were asked. Etc. I now may need to read the survey itself as I am not sure I believe that money is not a factor in workplace fulfillment. Although I do hope altruistic motivations would be paramount, I just have a hard time believing it.

  • Jason Hanson

    Very helpful and useful series!

  • Dina

    As a millennial, I agree with looking for meaningful work. I want to feel like I’m really making a difference in the future of the company I’m working at.

  • Heidi Willbanks

    I’m glad you find this topic so interesting. Millennials make up an estimated 36 percent of the workforce currently, and by 2020 nearly half of all US workers will be Millennials (Kenan-Flagler Business School).

  • Peter Guba

    This stat is pretty crazy: “A study by The Intelligence Group reports that 64 percent of Millennials would rather earn $40,000 a year at a job they love than $100,000 a year at a job they find unfulfilling.”

  • pminasian

    Millennials get a bad wrap! They know what they love to do and won’t chase a dream they’ll get bored in

  • Alex_Luther

    Great story

  • Tiff M.

    Good Read!

  • Chris Newton

    I’ve seen Millennials respond well to defined career progressions with more, but smaller steps along the way. The continuous stream of promotions seems to keep them more engaged and provides the right kind of feedback and sense of accomplishment that they crave. This can really be a helpful contributor to providing that “fulfilling” experience.

  • gary milwit

    #2 is very informative. thanks Mike.

  • Matt Jaime

    Great Article

  • http://hoopla.net Jessica Headley

    As a Millennial, I love and need Hoopla! Sometimes I enjoy the recognition more than my paycheck ;)

  • Alicia

    Interesting perspective…

  • Matt Coakley

    Good point on the importance of making the big picture clear for millennials. That can easily be missed.

  • jzepeda52

    We have had the benefit of hiring about a dozen Millennials or Generation Y employees this past year and after conducting my own 1×1’s with them it is evident they demand feedback, constant reinforcement, and a desire to be part of the larger picture. Even if they are strong self starters it’s important not to take that for granted-continue to give feedback.

    While the study by the Intelligence Group holds some truths many of the Millennials are graduating with higher college debt and their desire to make a lot of money is understated. Reality will set in quickly as they begin to live on their own, want to purchase a vehicle, or purchase a home in a environment of ever rising prices.

  • aaron fox

    As a millennial, I find it very important as part of my job to feel like i am making a contribution each day and looking for feedback on my work submitted.

  • jbenes3809

    I look forward to implementing these ideas in the work place.

  • brian fox

    “A study by The Intelligence Group reports that 64 percent of Millennials would rather earn $40,000 a year at a job they love than $100,000 a year at a job they find unfulfilling.” It would be interesting to see the statistics on other generations… or how this changes as people age.

  • Jillian Ritivoy

    I can absolutely agree with Brian Fox’s comment. I would rather make less doing what I love than hate my job and make more money, it’s just not worth it in my eyes. I think this generation is unique and will surprise everyone.

  • Jillian Ritivoy

    I DEFINITELY agree with Brian Fox’s comment below, I would rather make less money doing something I love than make more doing something I could care less about. I think the Millennials will surprise everyone, keep the faith!

  • Dan

    Excellent read!

  • jacobost415

    makes total sense; it’s all about engaging the “employee”

  • jacobost415

    good point about “greed is good” and how it relates to the younger generation

  • Teea Rogers

    Exactly. No one wants to be miserable at work and we have grown up in an era of equality so we feel as though working for a company that isnt going with that trend, isnt worth working for.

  • chantalrapport

    Graduate millenials are entering an entirely different workforce than other generations did – and I believe a lot of it has to do with the start up culture and the amount of self employed millenials there are. People in my graduating class more and more demand a high powered and motivating fun job, or they would rather just go start something themselves. It has also become more socially acceptable to follow something you are passionate about, without being too conceded with financial status. However, i think much of this is to do with the baby boomer generation passing on more wealth than ever before to their children – allowing them to do what they want and not worry about the financial burden.

  • Jacob O

    a really interesting read

  • meresia gutierrez

    I can totally relate to this. Have the struggle as my passion was for nursing and skills are in sales.

  • NextivaVoIP

    Very true. There is much more to keeping the fire and motivation in a salesperson than just money.

  • Shane Merica Galaviz

    I am on both sides of the fence with this. Cause I am a very money hungry salesman that will work hard to get paid well. But on the flip side i do enjoy actually helping people and feeling like I did something worth while that day.

  • dianafonseca93

    I understand both sides of this as well I love making my money and making sure that I do but I do not agree with misleading people and I don’t like feeling like I didn’t do anything for someone

  • WalkerLucas

    The higher purpose is very important to me. It’s important to know we’re working for a company that makes everything better.

  • David Coons

    Interesting statement about being a “walking contradiction” I think it may be true to a point. But overall I am not sure

  • Katiemisslady

    I love making money, but I have worked at enough places in the past. I know that a small difference in pay to work for a company that cares about it’s employees, and puts just as much into them as they do growing their business is worth that pay cut.

  • pop488

    Great article. I can relate to this.

  • Doug

    Kind of true but not for that much of a gap.

  • hpauto1

    Great article to pass on to everyone here.

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