Millennials have different values, expectations, and motivations from previous generations thus a new approach to workplace recognition must be considered. Here are seven tips on how best to recognize your Millennial employees.
1. Recognize specific behaviors or results.
Be specific about what the Millennial employee did to receive the recognition and why that behavior/result is important. For example, "Ashley, you continually make your colleagues and clients feel valued with your positively, friendliness, and enthusiasm, so we would like to [insert reward] because that type of positivity is what clients appreciate."
2. Recognize company values.
Adding the necessary context around recognition not only enhances feelings of belonging and esteem in Millennial employees, but it reinforces the company culture. What gets celebrated defines culture. The more you recognize specific behaviors that reinforce the culture, the better. Tie the recognition to the company's strategy so that the values and company culture can be reinforced with every recognition.
3. Recognize in every direction.
Recognition received from peers can be more meaningful for Millennials because it's their peers who have a better understanding of the work that they are doing. Organizations that leverage modern tools like Achievers to make their recognition programs more social and peer-to-peer will win over Millennials.
Recognition from leaders is also important for Millennials because it serves as an important indicator of the impact and direction of their work. Just make sure the top-down recognition is personal and specific.
4. Recognize visibly and widely.
Use the company blog, podcast, or team meetings to recognize Millennials. Tell the story behind the recognition and leverage the opportunity to reinforce expected behaviors and results. Make the people doing great things visible for everyone else to see and emulate.
5. Recognize in real-time.
Millennials' upbringing in an on-demand world has given them an appetite and expectation for real-time recognition. Integrate processes that enable peers and managers to recognize teammates in real-time. The recognition process needs to be effortless to ensure and encourage employees to participate frequently and in real-time.
For example, Tango Card is a Slack integration that allows employees to send e-gift cards (such as Amazon Gift Cards) to teammates directly in Slack. Per-reward maximums and other parameters can be set to ensure the tools aren't abused. Any Perk Rewards also provides a way for managers and peers to easily and regularly recognize one another.
While recognizing behaviors or results in real-time isn't always possible, strive to recognize as soon as possible.
Warning: Be careful not to over recognize. Dishing out too many rewards can dilute the impact for the high-achievers and embarrass the low-achievers that know they didn't earn it.
6. Recognize with personalization.
People don't quit companies, they quit people. Recognition that is personalized strengthens the bond between a manager and Millennial. Recognize Millennials with incentives that are relevant to their personal lives.
Millennials respond best when rewards are personal to them. Eliminate one-size-fits all rewards and consider having Millennials choose their reward. Blueboard helps companies reward employees with unique experiences, ranging from $150 kayaking outings to $1,500 James Bond day that includes skydiving, an exotic car rental, and mixology lessons to $25,000 guided trips to Everest base camp. Blueboard also plans to offer a personalized concierge service that would allow employees to design their own day or night out.
Personalized recognition sends the message: We recognize your good work. We value you. We're going places together.
7. Recognize, then coach.
Success leaves clues. Help Millennials to understand the actions, steps, hard work, etc. that it took to receive the recognition. Then help them to identify ways they can maintain the effort so that they can continue to progress. Millennials expect ongoing learning opportunities and put a premium on professional development. Leverage the time recognizing a Millennial employee as an opportunity to coach and support their professional development.
A critical component for any 21st-century high-performing workplace is recognition. Fill the air of your organization with gratitude and appreciation and be rewarded with Millennial loyalty and high-performance.
(This is 1 of the 47 strategies Ryan shares in his new book, The Millennial Manual: The Complete How-To Guide to Manage, Develop, and Engage Millennials at Work.)