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Chinese IKEA staff rehearse a play to entertain young customers at the newly completed IKEA Siyuanqiao store ahead of its opening on April 10, 2006 in Beijing, China. (Guang Niu/2006 Getty Images)
Chinese IKEA staff rehearse a play to entertain young customers at the newly completed IKEA Siyuanqiao store ahead of its opening on April 10, 2006 in Beijing, China. (Guang Niu/2006 Getty Images)

Start: Mark Evans

How to motivate Gen X and Gen Y employees Add to ...

While managing young employees is not a new challenge, it can be argued that overseeing today’s generation is different and often puzzling.

Without making sweeping generalizations, younger employees these days are motivated by things other than money. This is a generation armed with confidence, enthusiasm and a healthy belief that there is more to life than just work.

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So how do you motivate them? What are the tips and tricks to get the most out of people who want more from work than just a pay cheque?

The most important consideration is to accept that they value quality of life rather than quantity of money. This is not to suggest they don’t like making money, but it’s not the be all and end all.

As a result, work needs to be more than a job. It needs to be fun and engaging. It needs to be somewhere that those employees want to be because they enjoy the culture, the camaraderie and their roles.

Younger employees also need to believe that you are interested in them and, as important, you need to be interesting to them. It can be little things such as knowing their interests and hobbies. This information can make it easier to manage employees by offering them perks other than pay.

For example, an employee really into movies could be given a week off during a film festival. Someone into kite-boarding could take a day off if the weather conditions are ideal.

Given that lifestyle is important to younger employees, other perks could be giving staff a half-day off on Friday, providing an extra week of vacation as a reward for a good performance, having a fridge stocked with snacks and drinks, or taking everyone out for after-work drinks to celebrate a milestone.

While younger employees are confident in their abilities, it is important to ask for their thoughts and opinions rather than just having to do the work. Their ideas may not always be right but getting their input is a great way to make them feel part of the process.

Younger employees also want to be nurtured and given counsel as long as it is done constructively. This can make it tricky to offer criticism but it can be done successfully as long as you are concise and clear about why they are being criticized.

A technique used by one retail store manager is to have a “steel glove in one hand and a kid glove in the other.” She finds that delivering a critical or negative message can be effectively done if accompanied by two positive comments.

The bottom line is managing younger employees is as much art as science. There is no operating manual that fits all companies or all employees. In many ways, it comes down to understanding what makes each employee tick, which is something managers have always had to do.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Mark Evans is a principal with ME Consulting , a content and social media strategic and tactical consultancy that creates and delivers ‘stories’ for companies looking to capture the attention of customers, bloggers, the media, business partners, employees and investors. Mark has worked with three start-ups – Blanketware, b5Media and PlanetEye – so he understands how they operate and what they need to do to be successful. He was a technology reporter for more than a decade with The Globe and Mail, Bloomberg News and the Financial Post. Mark is also one of the co-organizers of the mesh, meshUniversity and meshmarketing conferences.

 

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