The Two Secrets to Keeping and Motivating Millennial Workers

By Haydn Shaw Senior Consultant, Franklin Covey | February 26, 2017

How do we recruit Millennials? How do we motivate them? And how do we keep them from leaving?

These three questions about the newest generation in the workplace, the Millennials, are the most commonly asked when I speak to organizations about generational sticking points and how they affect that organization's success.
When some managers ask these questions, they want me to give them "six magical techniques" that will help their Millennial employees to "get with the program," fit into their system, and act like the previous generations. While most leaders realize that it is impossible to remake 85 million people into the image of another generation, they don't know what else to do and so, out of frustration, they seek that magic fix. Other managers believe that because the Millennials are the future, organizational structures and the other generations need to adjust to them. So they force everyone outside that generation to change.

Neither option is the best. Rather than attempting the gargantuan task of trying to change Millennials or change the other generations, the managers in your property need to understand two things that will help answer each of those three key questions:

(1) You will make things worse if you don't understand emerging adulthood.

(2) Boredom is your enemy when managing Millennials.

There's a New Life Stage in Town

Emerging adulthood is a recently identified life stage between 18 and 28 years of age. It occurs right after adolescence and before early adulthood. Early adulthood is the life stage when people "settle down" to a life partner, a career, and often their more permanent location. Emerging adulthood is new to most people because sociologists only identified it in the last 15 years. When I ask groups to raise their hand if they have ever heard of it, only 2 to 3 percent do. Not understanding emerging adulthood means managers complain about Millennials, especially younger Millennials, as if something's wrong with them when they pass up jobs or do not seem engaged. But emerging adulthood is a much better explanation for why Millennials respond differently from previous generations. Understanding emerging adulthood also makes managers more productive. They know if generational characteristics are the problem, the managers have to try to fix that generation. But when a manager understands that they can't fix a life stage, then they are able to adapt the way they manage those employees.

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The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.