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How Do You Motivate Millennials? Not with Ping-Pong Tables! (Or at least not with ping-pong tables only…)

By Jordan Birnbaum, Chief Behavioral Economist, ADP

Millennials, to many employers, are an enigma. Even though the oldest of them are now in their 30s, they continue to be the generation without a clear definition – you might even say that the defining characteristic of millennials is in fact that they can’t be put neatly into a box. They’re meaning-makers. They’re experience-seekers. And now, they make up a higher proportion of the workforce than any other generation.

This ineffability leaves businesses with a tough task: how do they make their workplace appeal to millennials? Eighty-five percent of companies know they need to do a better job at engaging millennials. Engagement matters because it means employees are satisfied and more likely to stay put, and it even correlates with better business results. A recent survey revealed that companies with high engagement are 21 percent more productive. Knowing this, the question becomes how to get young people to find motivation and meaning in their day-to-day.

Specifically for millennials, market conditions are making the situation even more complicated. According to the ADP Research Institute’s Workforce Vitality Report, millennials saw on average a six percent increase in wages when they switched jobs at the end of last year, giving them a clear reason to jump ship. And with the U.S. labor market on track to continue the trend toward full employment, employers will have to find other ways to give millennials a reason to stay.

So, what is it that makes millennials tick? Pop culture has led us to believe that the answer is free snacks, hoverboards, and foosball tables – the fun, “un-corporate” accessories we imagine are strewn roguishly about the offices of tech companies thanks to movies like The Internship.

But it might surprise you is that what millennials really want is actually much more traditional. Dare we say, even…practical?

ADP recently did a survey that tapped 5,000 employees from across the country. One area of focus was on the perks that matter most at work (aside from compensation) – here’s what millennials say are the top three perks they are looking for:

    1. Flexible work hours
    2. Paid maternity or paternity leave
    3. Employee discount programs

      Companies that want to boost morale and retention among their millennial staff need to consider how to leverage these benefits to get the most bang for their buck: attracting the generation’s top talent and also retaining their existing workforce. While these perks may seem like a great expense or difficult to implement, companies need to consider the costly and time consuming alternative of losing out on precious top talent.

      To get the latest insights on what employees really want from their employers, check out ADP’s Engagement Meter, a new interactive tool to access key data about what’s important to employees like yours. The Engagement Meter can help you tackle your biggest employee engagement challenges, find out what’s really motivating the workforce, and uncover solutions to help your team be more successful.

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      1. Motivate millennials with ping-pong tables and hoverboards? Not so fast, says new data from ADP – - […] with better business results,” ADP’s Chief Behavioral Economist Jordan Birnbaum explains. Productivity dips aren’t the only downside here. If…

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