Millennials have garnered quite a reputation in recent years. They don't like rules, want their bosses to treat them as friends, loathe to part with their phones and want flexible work arrangements. At the same time, they have a strong sense of identity, speak their minds and want to do work that matters--traits capable of bringing to life some pretty revolutionary ideas. Yet, managing them well is a tricky thing for companies accustomed to employees who have traditionally been happy to have a steady job and good paycheck. "If your company can transform the way it operates to match the way these new workers think, live, and work, you will reap the rewards," writes Brian Halligan, CEO of cofounder of HubSpot in his massively popular Inc. column on the subject. "If your company is stuck in the '90s and doesn't make the shift, you will have to deal with a continuing rotating door of Millennial employees."

True, knowing what makes Millennials tick can help you keep them around. And according to the employee engagement company MotivAction, it can also help you motivate them to do their best work. It's why the company built the latest iteration of its incentive platform, Encore, to appeal to younger workers and the changing workforce.

MotivAction president and COO Joseph Keller and VP of marketing Beau Ballin gave me a demo and here's what I saw.

Employee Recognition

Essentially, Encore is a platform team members use to publicly recognize and award points to each other. After collecting enough points employees can use them in an integrated online store to buy things--everything from e-gift cards, electronics, fashion, health and beauty and more. The interface is simple enough--a user just chooses who he or she wants to recognize, specifies the reason for the accolade, writes a comment or two, and allots some points. Users can choose to receive notifications when recognized via email or text.

Easy-to-Understand Analytics

An employee's profile page includes badges for reaching milestones such as service anniversaries, a certain number of recognitions sent or received, or for doing things such as putting an item from the store on a wish list. Better yet, it includes a team org chart that shows the faces of team members next to which little counts are placed, according to how many recognitions the person has sent or received, a feature senior leadership may appreciate the most. "People don't leave companies, they leave managers," Ballin says, quoting an oft-used HR maxim. In other words, leadership can see at a glance which managers are recognizing employees and which ones aren't, so those in the latter camp can be retrained regarding the needs of recognition-hungry Millennials.


Millennials have been "liking" and "favoriting" posts on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest for years, so it makes sense that Encore lets them do it at work now, too. Keller says it's the public nature of recognition for achievement that Millennials particularly appreciate. "They expect this. They grew up with it," he says. Indeed, think about the ubiquity of certificates of participation--younger people have been rewarded for just showing up for things for decades.

Mobile First

Encore employs Responsive Web Design, meaning it automatically adjusts its presentation for optimal viewing depending on what size screen a person is using. Millennials will appreciate the experience since they have spent much of their lives with a mobile device within reach at all times, as will anyone in sales or manufacturing who uses a tablet or phone to get their work done.

Accessible to Smaller Companies

Encore, which was released in October, isn't the only incentive platform on the market--Achievers, Globoforce and O. C. Tanner are other companies that offer employee recognition programs--but according to Keller it's the only full-service recognition platform now accessible to smaller companies which can opt to manage their own programs, versus paying enterprise-level fees. Encore starts at $2,500 with ongoing annual investment usually running 1 percent of salary. "If that reduces turnover by one employee the whole program could pay for itself," he says.