Managing Millennials: It’s all about immediate recognition

A recent study conducted by the York College of Pennsylvania’s Center for Professional Excellence highlighted some alarming trends in recent college graduate readiness to enter today’s workforce.

A recent study conducted by the York College of Pennsylvania’s Center for Professional Excellence highlighted some alarming trends in recent college graduate readiness to enter today’s workforce.

Of the more than 400 hiring professionals who participated in the study, more than half indicated an increase in the number of new employees who enter the workforce with an unearned sense of entitlement.

Nearly as many reported that more than 50 percent of their new hires lacked professionalism in their everyday behavior. More than 44 percent of survey respondents reported a worsening work ethic among recent graduates, and nearly 38 percent reported an increase in the number of unfocused employees.

Numerous other studies, dating as far back as early 2010, warn that members of the next generation of workers, commonly referred to as “Millennials,” are dramatically different than their predecessors.

According to these sources, Millennials demand instant gratification, place personal pursuits over work obligations, remain connected to distracting online activities 24/7/365 and don’t take well to even the most positively presented constructive criticism – never mind any workplace disciplinary actions.

They don’t buy into corporate financial goals, market positions or growth strategies – they buy into societal goals, environmental practices, cultures and public missions.

Much has been written about how to manage this new generation of workers between the ages of 18 and 35, which will constitute more than 35 percent of the workforce by the end of 2013 and more than 50 percent of all workers by the end of the decade.

Most articles deal with how to align corporate recognition and reward programs with Millennial expectations as a way to bolster their performance, encourage positive employee behaviors and reduce turnover within this often fickle, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately generation of workers.

According to current research and emerging best practices, managers should keep a few important points in mind when creating recognition programs for Millennial members of their workforce.

Emerging from an era of Facebook, Twitter, blogs, text messages and other forms of sending and receiving immediate “status” updates, Millennials require immediate recognition for their accomplishments. Long gone are the days of annual employee evaluations, quarterly bonuses, employee-of-the-month awards or a round of applause at the biweekly sales team meeting.

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