Motivate Millennials with Social Interaction

By Bob Nelson

Millennials are very social and perhaps more peer-group-oriented than previous generations. Most of their upbringing and educational and social experiences has revolved around groups, be it playing interactive video games, participating in group sports, or connecting on Facebook with their friends.

Use these generational preferences to your advantage by allowing Millennials to work together on projects and assignments, hosting team-building activities and celebrations — even organizing nonwork social situations such as outings, team sports, or charity events. If they tend to work best with others and if they get into a project by talking it through with coworkers, let them do that. Make clear what you need the end result to be, but let them bring the imprint of who they are to the task so they can be excited about the work and even have fun getting it done (you may not need your job to be fun to get it done, but don’t fault them if that’s their preference!).

Some real-life applications of this concept include the following:

  • Umpqua Bank in Oregon has outfitted its branches with cafes and couches and often provides recreational activities in the office for its employees.

  • Oregon Cascade Plumbing and Heating, based in Salem, Oregon, regularly hosts contests and awards a Kermit the Frog Statue to whoever has the best decorated office or the ugliest shirt.

  • Kimley-Horn and Associates, an engineering firm in North Carolina, holds regular lunchtime forums for employees to network, share advice, and plan social get-togethers.

  • Marriott Hotels offer a Teamwork-Innovations program for employees to improve efficiency by working together and scheduling their own hours.