Employees’ productivity is crucial to ensure the success of an organisation and one of the main factors which influences productivity is motivation. Industries are constantly growing, competition is continually rising therefore organisations are obliged to adopt new motivational strategies and adapt to the upcoming generation of workers. In this essay, we will be studying the millennial generation and the strategies organisations use in order to motivate them. We will base our analysis on evidence provided by case studies and our personal experiences.
The term “millennials” refers to the people born from 1980 to 2000 (Hasfad, 2018). Millennials are born in an era in which information is immediately available and this has affected their lifestyle, culture and set of values, distinguishing them from the previous generations (Hasfad, 2018). “Understanding this is important, as it determines how they engage with people, products and services, what they expect, what they need and how they behave” (Hasfad, 2018) .
Tech companies represent four out of the top five employers’ millennials want to work for (Umoh, 2017). This is due to how they motivate millennials, they give young professionals what they want most: career growth, flexibility and a sense of purpose (Umoh, 2017). Motivation is defined as “the cognitive decision-making process through which goal-directed behaviour is initiated, energised, directed and maintained” (Martin, 2001). Previous generations remain more concerned about money and compensations than millennials, who rather work for an organisation that values work and life balance (Umoh, 2017). Managers in tech companies like Tinder, Google or Adobe have understood the complexity of the millennial generation and have been able to adapt to their needs and wants.
Tinder is a dating app used by over 50 million users per month, mainly millennials, ranging from the age of 18 to 26 years old. Being a millennial myself and working in this tech enterprise, it has allowed me to understand how this type of industry motivates their young employees. As a
brand ambassador, I am in charge of the promotion of their service at University of Bath. To motivate their employees, Tinder uses the “two- factor theory of motivation” by Frederick Herzberg also known as the intrinsic and extrinsic motivators (Martin, 2001). Intrinsic rewards refer to the individual behaving in a way, because it is rewarding for him, the “outcome is his own” (Martin, 2001). On the other hand, extrinsic rewards occur when the individual engages in an activity for benefits it provides such as: promotions and recognition (Martin, 2001). Intrinsically, we are given weekly tasks and a due date by which these tasks have to be completed. All the work is done in pairs and we are given complete freedom, this is what I particularly appreciate, as it develops our creativity. Our managers, who are also millennials, are really understanding and supportive. The relaxed environment encourages us to create new and innovative ideas for our campaigns. Nevertheless, Tinder uses multiple extrinsic motivators: such as weekly monetary incentives for the pair that has exceeded their expectations. However, this competitive spirit motivates employees albeit it can sometimes create tensions between them. Furthermore, the expectancy theory is put in practice with the “Tinder best day ever”, a day, every semester, to enjoy ourselves, with all expenses paid for by Tinder. This reward can only be obtained if all the previous tasks are done correctly and before the imposed deadline. By doing so, it increases productivity and encourages teamwork, creativity, and gives us something to look forward to. Thus, Tinder has created a work environment where millennials are constantly motivated by both intrinsic and extrinsic rewards.
Google is top of the list when it comes to companies that millennials would want to work for. Their flat organisational structure, employee freedom, and employee reward strategies have created a powerful employment brand (Rosman, 2018). Therefore, it is no surprise that Google has a high millennial workforce and a median age of employees of 30 years old (Umoh, 2017).
Knowing that millennials give a greater value to freedom and career growth than to eventual bonuses it is no surprise that Google was for many years ‘millennials’ favourite employer. Google has created a work environment which is completely in line with their philosophy “to create the happiest, most productive workplace in the world” (Rosman, 2018). They have conceived a relaxed and fun environment where people can dress as they want, and where they can share and debate ideas with other employees (Rosman, 2018). In doing so, they encourage internal rewarding behaviours which ensures high-quality performance; creativity and innovation (Rosman, 2018). This intrinsic motivation turns millennials into a critical asset of the company as they will adjust their very own individual objectives to the brand’s one.
However, millennials are also motivated by money-related rewards, for example, pay increments or bonuses. Google uses extrinsic motivation by constantly rewarding their employees with monetary compensation or benefits such as free massages, gym memberships or hairstyling (Rosman, 2018). By creating an environment where workers are continually surrounded by rewards, it improves employee’s performance which is essential in a growing company.
Furthermore, millennials want their work to have an impact and according to Jon Cohen, chief research officer at SurveyMonkey, “Working in tech allows them to be on the cutting-edge of society and see their ideas come to fruition” (Umoh, 2017). Therefore, they look for companies with progressive management such as Google where McGregor’s Theory Y is applied. Theory Y assumes that “Management is responsible for organising the elements of productive enterprise in the interest of economic end. Their essential task is to arrange the conditions and methods of operations so that people can achieve their own goals set by directing their own efforts towards organisational objectives” (Martin, 2001). Google is focused on autonomy, employees are encouraged to take one day per week (20% of their time) to focus on their respective projects (Rosman, 2018). Millennials value flexibility and this encourages their creativity, self-motivation and stimulates their productivity in achieving Google’s goals (Umoh, 2017). Furthermore, millennials have an avid need to see that their ideas are taken into consideration and that they have an impact on society” (Umoh, 2017). Theory Y also assumes that employees seek, accept responsibilities, and need little direction (Martin, 2001). In a firm such as Google, employees are not supervised and are trusted in their decision making. This reduces stress in the workplace but also helps improve their capacity to face and ultimately solve issues. Google’s vision of creating an environment where both creativity and engagement within employees is perfectly in line with millennials’ increasing desire for a meaningful career (Umoh, 2017).
Another example is Adobe. In September 2018, Forbes published their first-ever ranking of America’s Best Employers for New Graduates, and Adobe Systems was ranked 1st (Valet, 2018).
The company attributed much of its success to its understanding of the wants and needs of the millennials. As previously stated, young professionals need to feel that they are adding value to a company. Millennials care about being challenged, impacting and making a difference in the world (Umoh, 2017). Adobe understood that entrepreneurialism keeps millennials involved and enthusiastic at work. This company is another example that allows us to understand how managers motivate their young employees following McGregor’s theory Y. Adobe employees have true responsibility and freedom with their work, they are not micromanaged (Umoh, 2017). Every employee can contribute to the firm and this is what motivates millennials, showing the possible success of using McGregor’s theory Y. The freedom they are given allows them to be more creative, to solve problems, and push them to innovate. However, from personal experience, the application of Theory Y can be problematic for employees who struggle with taking personal initiatives and need guidance to be productive. Not all millennials are productive when possessing complete freedom. Managers must adapt their motivation strategy in order to match each employee’s skills.
Moreover, today’s entry-level employees are mainly interested in opportunities for career growth. Adobe understood this and started building careers for its young employees before they even joined the full-time workforce through its internship program (Valet, 2018). What millennials want the most are “accelerated promotions”, and Adobe can provide it because they have the financial ability, and consistently add new roles as they grow (Umoh, 2017). Adobe managers use Vroom’s expectancy theory, it is a “process theory which argues that individual motivation depends on the valence of outcomes, the expectancy that effort will lead to good performance and the instrumentality which is the probability that good performance will lead to valued rewards” (Martin, 2001). Tech companies such as Adobe grow rapidly, offering career opportunities inside the company to their employees (Umoh, 2017). This is exactly what motivates millennials at Adobe as they know they can be promoted if they work hard.
In conclusion, managers understood that the millennial generation has an entrepreneurial spirit bigger than any prior generation. First, they need to feel that their contribution will make a real difference, they ask for more freedom to develop their creativity and be more productive. It explains why businesses applying McGregor’s Theory Y are at the top of the list of companies that millennials want to work for. Moreover, millennials value flexibility and a friendly atmosphere, they like being part of a group. A strong workforce culture allows them to be more satisfied and productive at work. Therefore, companies using intrinsic and extrinsic motivators as monetary compensation or benefits are also their favourite places to work. Knowing that they can get rewards if they work well is a factor that motivates them the most. Finally, according to Vroom’s expectancy theory, “individuals are going to select their behaviours based on the outcomes” (Umoh, 2017). Millennials are primarily interested in opportunities for career growth and tech companies’ quick expansion attracts them. These companies grow rapidly, allowing managers to offer them the opportunities they desire. Managers have adapted their motivation strategies to this new generation, however as a millennial, I would advise them to balance between freedom and guidance, as not all of us are efficient without structure. They should give each employee the organisational support they require in order to make them progress and make rewards more attainable for all.