4 strategies for employee recognition that work for the millennial generation

By Deb LaMere, Vice President of Employee Engagement at Ceridian.

A big part of the job is knowing how to adjust your strategies for human capital management to accommodate the specific needs of the people working for you. How are your employees unique in today’s workforce? What makes them tick? What makes them stay engaged, motivated and productive on a daily basis?

These are issues that we grapple with every day. Along those lines, one all-important question is how to provide recognition for employees – this, too, can depend on the specific needs and wants with the people involved.

If your organization is staffed mostly by seasoned veteran employees, you may need to invest heavily in employee rewards with serious financial value – among them pay raises, medical insurance and other benefits that offer people long-term fiscal stability.

With younger employees, though? It’s different. Sometimes all that millennials need is a little bit of verbal confirmation that they’ve done their jobs well. A pat on the back or a word of validation can do more for their self-esteem than a slightly bigger paycheck ever could.

I was recently quoted in a BBC report about millennial employees and their growing reputation as “praise junkies” in the workplace. According to research at Ceridian, nearly 75 percent of millennials prefer rewards like personal days off work, free meals and tickets to concerts and sports events. This statistic reflects millennials’ need for quick, constant feedback, which can’t always be a pay raise or bonus.

So let’s talk about this. How can you give quick and constant feedback to the millennial employees among your ranks? The good news is that it doesn’t always need to break the bank. You can express gratitude to your employees relatively cheaply and easily. Here are a few ideas:

Thoughtful e-cards
It’s incredibly easy and cheap to send an employee a greeting card online that says something like “great job!” or “keep up the quality work!” Not only is it cheap, but employees have said time and time again that getting such a greeting can brighten their day.

Desirable gifts
Ceridian’s research found that small gifts can do a lot more than pay raises for making employees feel recognized. Offering up a free ticket to a movie or sporting event can be a really nice gesture that can make a millennial employee feel appreciated.

Celebrating milestones
Your longtime veteran employees are probably well versed in celebrating their “anniversaries” at the office. If someone has spent 10, 20 or 30 years with the same employer, that’s an event worth celebrating. But why let millennials feel left out? Maybe a six-month or one-year anniversary is just as important to them. So celebrate it!

Recognition from peers
At the end of the day, really nothing feels better for employees than being praised by their own colleagues. If managers can change the workplace culture to one where respect and recognition are the norm, employees of all ages will undoubtedly feel the positive effects.

Deb LaMere

Deb LaMere is Vice President of Employee Engagement at Ceridian

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