We are going from an economy from execution of tasks (Daniel Pink would call this Economy 2.0), to an economy of creativity, thinking outside the box and problem solving (Economy 3.0). On office work floors, where this new economy is given shape, we will need people who are connected, yet creative; driven by goals yet conscious of their surroundings; individualistic yet communicative. Basically all the things that do not fit in mainstream corporate working cultures…
Are Millennials the answer? Do they hold the key to changing our Economy from 2.0 to 3.0? And if so, how do we fit them in? How do we motivate them to bring the best out of them that our new challenges need?
Millennials are probably the most researched generation in history. Sociologists, psychologists, economists and marketers have been focused on Gen Y (a.k.a. Millennials) for more than a decade. So we should have a rough idea who they are and what they want.
Most researchers adopt 1995 as the dividing year to define who is a Millennial and who belongs to Generation X (the generation before Generation Y). So everybody who in 2014 was 18 – 30 years old. This dividing line is quite arbitrary, and it will be hard to argue that the age group born in 1994 does not share most characteristics of the group born in 1996 of course.
However, let’s roll with the dice we are given and let’s take a stab at the question: how do we arrange work floors in organiations in such a way that they cater to the motivations of Millennials? Let’s look at motivation in general and then to generational differences in motivation.
All human beings are most motivated (and most happy) in settings where they experience Autonomy, some sense of Purpose and Connectedness. This is the same for all generations and through the ages. Knowing that you have a large degree of autonomy in your actions, that your life and work means something and that you feel socially connected is what drives our longer-term happiness.
But if this holds true for all humans, how do we differentiate our motivational strategies from one generation to the other? Well, to put it simply: boomers respected authority; Generation X respected capable authority and Generation Y in general only respects authority if it supports their life goals and ambitions. This is another over-generalization of course and maybe says too little about what Millennials need in to be motivated.
Octalysis to the Rescue: The Millennial Player Type
In order to know what motivates Generation Y and how to best approach them on the work floor, let’ s do an Octalysis analysis on them (and let’s restrict ourselves to the most applicable ones). Do check www.octalysisgroup.com and www.yukaichou.com for more information on The Octalysis Framework.
Core Drive 1: Epic Meaning and Calling
Despite their low pay checks and unsteady financial situation, Millennials care about being philanthropic. Three-quarters of Millennials contributed to their causes in other ways. More than 70% percent raised funds and 57% did volunteer work for non-profits – more than any other generation.
When they care about a cause, Millennials spread the word! Roughly three quarters of Millennials have shared information on events from a non-profit on Facebook and 69 percent have shared stats on their favorite causes. Which brings us to Core Drive 5: Social Influence and Relatedness.
Core Drive 5: Social Influence and Relatedness
Millennials LOVE their social networks to which they are constantly connected online. “TMI” isn’t part of the Millennial vocabulary. Almost a third or 32 percent of younger Millennials (age 18-24) use social networking while in the bathroom. And, 51 percent of older Millennials (age 25-34) use social networking at the office–more than any other age group.
At the same time they have gone through one of the biggest financial crises ever, which makes that they care about their families, friends and philanthropic causes. They are connected, but not in a sheeple kind of way: they LOVE their uniqueness. Which brings us to Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity and Feedback.
Core Drive 3: Empowerment of Creativity and Feedback
They value authenticity and creativity, have a natural interest in customization and individuality and are cherish their uniqueness more than any other generation:
- they buy local goods made by members of their communities (Core Drive 3 leading to Core Drive 5)
- Millennials like to handle their finance themselves, primarily online.
- Also, given their techie nature, it’s not surprising that they are the heaviest Internet bankers and most likely to purchase insurance online. And they want feedback…immediately (traditional bankers…beware…)
- Millennials want to express themselves and form a unique identity. They love music and art and value creativity–specifically rap, hip hop, alternative and reggae music and fine art.
- More than a third of Millennials have chosen to create their own unique body: 38% have a tattoo and 23% have body piercings, compared with 15% and 1% respectively of Baby Boomers.
Core Drive 7: Curiosity and Unpredictability
Results of studies show that the Millennial generation have a high motivation to learn, higher levels of proactive personality, and greater conscientiousness than previous generations. Finally, relative to Generation X employees, Millennials reported higher post training motivation to transfer what they learned during training back to their jobs.
This higher learning motivation is possibly due to Millennials constant exposure to information than people of older generations. If you have an I-phone, you can look something up online immediately and even find a useful app to help with your problem or quell your curiosity.
Core Drive 2: Progress and Development
Millennials share a sense of entrepreneurship. When young people are asked about the most important factors that contribute to success, they say that the real path to wealth is through business innovation—not through investing. So this is mainly Core Drive 3.
Often their entrepreneurial venture is a philanthropic cause. According to a 2012 survey of investors, almost 60% of the youngest age listed “social responsibility” as one of the most important factors by which they selected investments, far more than their older counterparts. So, even though Millennials carry a stigma of being money oriented, the real picture is more complex.
Salaries and bonuses are still important but autonomy, respect and fairness, are just as important. Millennials want employers to be able to provide these conditions in their workplace. Their access to digital information has also made them much more aware of what their peers and superiors are earning as well as what they themselves are worth, and what their rights and privileges are in the workplace. So the short motivational period of extrinsic motivation is getting even shorter, decreasing its timebound impact. You already couldn’t motivate Generation X with money for long, but even less so for Millennials. Employers, beware!
Octalysis Gamification: Millennial Engagement on the Work Floor
In our work at The Octalysis Group we design Octalysis Enterprise Gamification (Human Focused Gamiifcation that strengthens employee motivation), for all dominant player types. With 25% of the workforce being Millennnials, they are a major player category (note that within this general player category, there can be many sub category player types: Millennial Competitive; Millennial Cooperative etc etc).
Octalysis design for Millennials means creating a lot of room for employee initiative and influence; social activities (quests, group work etc); transparency and feedback as well as creating links between corporate goals and global or community issues. As you can see, there is less emphasis on Points, Badges and Leaderboards (although we do design for these short term motivators as well).
Gamification for Millennials cannot be done off the shelf. Creating engagement for Millennials means following a custom made model, where intrinsic motivational design is central. Have a look at the Octalysis Framework and if you think we can help, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
By the way: are you ready for Gen Z??
A whole new ball game with people under 18…coming to you soon at a work floor near you!