Adapting incentives to the ‘millennial generation’

by: Nichole Gunn June 22, 2010

Talking to HR Magazine Incentive expert Tom Miller has shred his views on the changes that the new generation, the millennial generation, is bringing into the workforce.  The millennial generation has a much different work mentality than the generations before them, and this is not necessarily a good thing. Instead of going above and beyond expectations, millennial generation employees are too often guilty of exceeding the very minimal of what is expected of them, simply to accomplish the tasks set out and just that. It is clear that times have changed significantly and will continue to change as the new generation enters the workforce.

With that said,  companies have to adapt their HR practices.  In order to motivate and reward this brand new ‘breed’ of employees, employers must respond to such changes and address employee incentive programs with a completely different attitude and approach. Miller suggests rewarding those employees who work smarter, not harder. Miller also insinuates that the “I’m just glad to have a job” mentality that the poor job market has given many employees is an excuse for many employers to make their employees feel unappreciated. Employers need to avoid that, regardless of incentive programs. Creating hostile environments will push workers to look for new jobs - where they actually do feel appreciated - in next to no time. In fact, The U.S. Department of Labor estimates that today’s learner will have 10-14 jobs by the age of 38, and 1 in 4 workers has been with their current employer for less than a year, while 1 in 2 has been there less than five years.

Companies must learn to adapt to these changes by working towards sharing the same overall goal that they have as a company, with their employees, new generation or old.

"In good times and bad there are going to be shifts that have to be made. One of the things you want your recognition and reward system to be is very flexible, so that it can adjust and adapt to the cultural environment.", says Miller.