Creating an environment that motivates millennials

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By 2025, 75% of the global workforce will be made up of millennials; a shift that businesses need to prepare for in order to attract and retain workers.

Forget about the misconceptions, millennial employees can be just as hardworking, spirited and loyal as any other generation; it’s all about how you motivate them.

As the race is on to captivate their attention, many companies are asking the same question: how can you harness the skill and determination of millennials and create a culture that inspires them to succeed? Cognism’s Chief Revenue Officer, Nazma Qurban, looks at how companies can foster a culture where millennials can thrive and talent is retained.

Become a mentor

Traditionally, the manager-employee relationship has been centred around achieving the objectives of the business or department. However, managing purely based on performance won’t work with millennials; in order to see the whole picture, companies need to move their focus to development.

From fostering an open-door policy to setting up regular one to one meetings to discuss both personal and work-related issues, managers should always put personal growth first. Casual conversations can lead to feelings of trust and by becoming a mentor that acknowledges the employee’s strengths, employees become empowered to make their own decisions. It is only then that they will truly learn for themselves.

Pave the way for a future

91% of millennials consider the opportunity for rapid career progression as one of the most important aspects of a job. Ultimately, they want to know that if they work hard, they will reap the rewards. So, making sure encouragement and benefits such as salary and remuneration are in place is key to increased productivity and performance.

If space is created for people to step up, they will do so. Putting a progression plan in place from the start is the best way to make a millennial employee feel that you, as an employer, prioritise their career growth and advancement. And job titles really do matter; for motivated millennials, a job title reflects their status and success. Giving them a taste of authority will give them a sense of purpose which could help drive company success.

Cultivate a culture

Millennials want an environment that lets them thrive, but how can companies make this happen? With many millennials fresh out of university, replicating the university environment in the workplace through socialising and collaboration is a great way to engage them.

Creating a business unit which doesn’t feel isolated from other departments and doesn’t have any members of the management team locked behind glass doors, is the first step. Once this roadblock is removed, the workplace feels immediately more inclusive. Solving the problem of diversity through regular collaboration will help build a supportive environment that millennials want to be a part of.

Celebrate success

Millennials respond well to a celebratory culture; this shouldn’t just be limited to business success, but inclusive of both team and individual success too. Celebrating milestones such as a great customer review, when a contract is signed, or even their triumphs outside work will give millennials the positive reinforcement to keep achieving.

One way this works is through company socials and entertainment. Assigning a dedicated budget to host regular activities at work will help blur the line between work and play. Whether it’s team lunches, beer and pizza evenings or even an annual trip away, when people enjoy what they do and who they do it with, they will feel like they have a sense of purpose.

Champion transparency

Millennials expect transparency and are willing to be transparent in return. Being open and honest in both communications and conduct will go a long way in winning the hearts of millennials. Opening up these conversations and creating an inclusive environment will make them feel a level of value and respect whereby they can impact actual change.

Giving them the opportunity to innovate and pursue their personal interests in the professional setting is one way companies can keep things fresh and provide them with the opportunity to get involved in the way the business is run. After all, you never know what hidden talents might transform your business.


Business owners need to realise that it’s no longer about what millennials can bring to the company, but what the company can bring to millennials. Working with millennials needn’t be an obstacle. If organisations invest in them as people and not employees, they will create a happier team, which is inevitably more effective and motivated and set up to succeed every time. Engage with millennials in the right way and there are no limits to what can be achieved.