Employee Recognition for Millennials

Millennials get a bad rap. They’re the generation that popularised selfies, avocado toast, and food blogging (which is ultimately a combination of both). On the other hand, however, they’re brimming with unique experiences and skills that are invaluable in the workplace. They’re also getting older and more ambitious, with 50% of the global workforce looking to be Millennials by 2020. With this in mind, recognition practices should be shifting in preparation for the Millennial inundation, and away from the standardised forms of the past. Failing to do so means you’re potentially missing out on the best of your employees, and losing them quicker than you’d expect.

By revamping and innovating your recognition practices, not only do you capitalise on your employees’ talents, but you help them to flourish in your company. Read on to discover the best ways to recognise your Millennial employees.

Career Progression and Culture

Millennials grew up in a different world. When they work at a company, they’re not solely motivated by the money. Instead, they want more- more opportunities, more progression, and more chances for development. A study revealed that it’s 50% of managers who believe high pay is important, compared to only 28% of Millennials. Instead, it’s career progression which ranks more highly for Millennials, with 91% of them interested in progression opportunities when they apply for job roles. They also want to successfully balance their social and work lives, so offering flexibility, holidays and work from home opportunities is key to recognising employees.

Real-time Recognition

Millennials experience a culture of instant gratification that is vastly dissimilar from what other generations have experienced. Fuelled by familiarity with digital media, Millennials are most accustomed than instantaneous reactions and they expect this in their workplace. This is why standardised recognition methods, such as annual engagement surveys, are failing to resonate with Millennials; they’re clunky, long and can’t resolve issues in relevant time. Instead, try investing in pulse surveys. They’re short, powerful and are issued frequently enough so that you can resolve issues closer to their emergence. This is an easy way to recognise Millennial employees, as it specifically addresses their individual needs and gives them a clear channel for communication in the company. Digital media is also extremely useful in providing a platform for real-time recognition. As Millennials are more accustomed to a work life which bleeds into their home, companies are no longer restricted to communication within a strict 9-5 time frame to provide their feedback.


One thing Millennials are used to is individuality. They’ve grown up in a culture which prizes nonconformity, and they’ve carried this belief over to their working lives. As employees that value themselves as individual talents, they expect an equally personalised form of feedback that addresses their strengths and weaknesses. They also expect this from the people they know, with 80% of Millennials saying they wanted to receive regular feedback from their managers. This personal and individual type of recognition is designed to simultaneously deliver feedback and coaching to Millennial employees; in fact, 95% of Millennial employees said they worked harder if they had learnt how their task contributed to the company’s larger strategy. So by providing personal feedback to Millennials, you stand to simultaneously raise productivity and engagement in the company.

Company Input

These days, Millennials don’t just have to agree to their job role- they also have to agree to the company. Millennials are a deeply socially aware generation, and will often prioritise a company whose social innovations they agree with over one which they don’t. Combined with the fact that they’re some of the most educated employees in the workforce, companies should strive to let Millennials in on company decisions as a means of recognition. This doesn’t have to be anything too major- simply things like your company’s charitable decisions, and allowing them to choose their own rewards allows Millennial employees to productively exercise their opinion. Providing this avenue for recognition helps Millennials better understand their place in the company and encourages employee retention; in fact, 71% of Millennials who agree that they know what their company stands for say that they plan to remain there for a year at the least.

Millennials can no longer be underestimated or ignored by the workforce. In the same way, employee recognition should be utilised as a tool to bring out the best in them. By shaping your employee recognition to these employees, you stand to raise productivity, engagement and employee retention all in one go.