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Culture of Appreciation Hits Millennial Sweet Spot

What employees want most is to feel like what they do and who they are matters.

Except millennials don’t just want it. They expect it. Or they will move on somewhere else until they find it.

Don’t view them as being less loyal, but rather having certain expectations they want met.

So what can companies do to engage and retain their employees born roughly between 1980 and 2000? What low cost, high impact solution can they implement right now?

Show individualized appreciation to employees, and begin building a culture of appreciation. Let them know you value them for their workplace contributions and as a person.

It’s important to know that not everyone feels appreciated in the same way. For an act of appreciation to be the most effective, it needs to be conveyed in an individual’s primary language of appreciation.

Managers and supervisors, especially, should be familiar with “The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace” by Dr. Gary Chapman and Dr. Paul White and be trained in how to apply it. The five languages are words of affirmation, quality time, acts of service, tangible gifts and physical touch.

Employees Who Feel Appreciated Work Harder and Stay Longer

When an employee feels appreciated, they behave in ways that benefit an organization’s bottom line. Essentially, what’s good for the employee is good for the company.

A survey by the popular job search website revealed that 81 percent of employees say they’re motivated to work harder when their boss shows appreciation for their work, and 53 percent surveyed said they would stay longer at their company if they felt more appreciation from their boss.

Appreciation has been shown to be an effective motivator for individuals regardless of their generation, but it really hits a sweet spot for millennials because of four key traits.

  1. Millennials need frequent feedback

Millennials want to know if they’re on the right track by receiving regular evaluations and feedback from their supervisor. They will assume that a lack of feedback means they’re doing poorly, so it’s important to let them know when they’ve done a good job. Being shown consistent acts of appreciation for positive performance will keep them motivated to do even better.

  1. Millennials like to build strong interpersonal relationships

Millennials want meaningful connections with their co-workers. They want to enjoy being around the people they work with or else work is no fun. Organizations with a culture of appreciation foster an environment in which employees encourage one another regardless of hierarchy. Peer appreciation results in camaraderie and positive workplace relationships.

  1. Millennials need validation

Millennials grew up with the instant gratification and self-esteem boosts that come from getting “likes” for their photos and posts on social media. It makes sense they want validation from people at their work. Within a culture of appreciation, individuals are celebrated and respected for their value as human beings with unique personalities and interests. In this type of work environment, recognition and appreciation are not reserved for only the top performers.

  1. Millennials value purpose over paychecks

Millennials have been called the purpose-driven generation. They prioritize jobs that provide them with a strong sense of meaning over increased pay. In their job, they need to know that the work they do makes an impact so it’s important for their supervisors to affirm their contributions through acts of appreciation. Ultimately, being told they are a valuable member of an organization in their primary language of appreciation is a stronger motivator than financial incentives.

An Opportunity to Impact Behavior

Millennials aren’t the disloyal job hoppers they may seem on the surface. When millennials feel appreciated by their supervisor and peers, they are naturally more engaged and less likely to pursue new career opportunities.

The cost savings of retention alone can’t be ignored when employee turnover can “cost upwards of twice an employee’s salary to find and train a replacement,” according to the Wall Street Journal .

Today’s employers have a valuable opportunity to influence millennial behavior and increase employee retention by taking steps to foster a culture of appreciation within their organizations.

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