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A Millennial’s Perspective on Motivation at Work

By Monica Hedden , Marketing Specialist, Dittman Incentive Marketing

Most people have heard of Millennials. You know, the age group that was born between the 1980s and the 2000’s; children of Baby Boomers or Gen-Xers, defined by their use of technology and their upbringing? Well, you should know about them, considering they’ll son make up over 50% of the workforce. Most organizations are trying their best to recognize the rise of this group and are thinking about how to “handle” them in their organizations.

Companies are – or should be – learning as much as they can about this generation in order to prepare for the Millennial “take over.” What do they expect? How do they work? What does this mean for the rest of us? Companies are doing research, attending seminars, and trying to prepare for this new wave of young people that will inevitably take over the workplace.

So, instead of trying to figure out the minds of these twenty-somethings everyone is talking about, here’s a little insight from yours truly about Millennials and having a job in today’s workplace.

I Am Focused And Driven

Let me explain a little bit about our generation and higher education. We grew up in a world where our parents wanted to make sure our lives were much better than theirs. Unlike what you might expect from a typical Millennial, most of us didn’t grow up in affluent suburbs where our parents had the capital to spoil us. The values imparted to us, however, were pretty much the same across the board: be successful in your profession and make a good life for yourself and your family.

It took a while to decide exactly what we wanted to do with our lives. College years were spent working hard to earn a degree in a field we were passionate about. We wanted to find the perfect career path, something to be proud of. The expectation was that we would leave college and immediately find an opportunity that allowed us to use our degrees and land a promising position. Our parents didn’t want us to struggle, but wanted us to work hard. It all pays off in the end, right?

I Want To Work

Being successful in a well-paying career is very important to our generation. Often, we will hold out for the perfect opportunity to come along before settling for a job that would make us unhappy. Millennials leave college with an average of $30,000 in student loan debt. We are living with our parents longer, have more financial responsibility right out of college, and are eager to start making money because of this debt.

What’s most important to us in a job may not be what’s important to the rest of the workforce…

  • To feel useful: We need to feel useful, important, and an asset not only in our position, but to the company overall. If we don’t, it won’t be long before we find somewhere we feel we can contribute.
  • To have opportunities to grow: If the position we have doesn’t allow growth in our career, we’ll move on to the next job opportunity that will. We strive to be the best and, ultimately, to make money.
  • To know we are appreciated: Yes, we are the generation that got trophies for just participating. It’s understandable that this takes away chances to teach us valuable lessons. However, this is the world we grew up in, and this concept follows us into our work life. If we do a great job, we want to know about it! We want to hear thank you, or receive some sort of recognition for a job well done.
  • To provide fact: We’ve grown up with so much technology and information. We’ve learned to sift through all of this material to find out what’s real. We seek truth and we’re good at finding it.
  • To work hard and play hard: Millennials will work just as hard as the rest of the workforce. We will put in the long hours and make sure the job is done well. However, we need some fun in the mix! We like going out for drinks with coworkers, taking company trips, having co-workers meet our friends. Our jobs take up over 30% of our time, so we might as well get close to those who surround us every day.
  • To be a part of a community: We need a strong sense of community and like working in teams. We seek the need to be surrounded by a network of people who like and support us. We like a lot of friends, and family means everything to us.
  • To be proud of a culture: When job searching, companies that offer employee benefits beyond cash bonuses will be most sought after by Millennials. We’re more attracted to a company’s culture. Does my company make this a place I would want to spend 40 hours (or more) a week and still say I love my job?

Please Don't Judge Me

Although Millennials are the future, there’s some stigma surrounding this term. The word lumps us into a category of people thought to be self-entitled and self-absorbed. Personally, I don’t think there’s much to “figure out” about my generation.

First, we don’t like to be looked down upon as the self-entitled children of the world. All of our behaviors and characteristics have been shaped by the world that has surrounded us. But most importantly, my generation has something to show and something to prove for themselves. It’s time to spend less energy judging and more of it engaging Millennials.

If you show us that you care about us as employees, we’ll do anything to help grow your organization. We are the culture of the future, both in and out of the office.

As a Marketing Specialist at Dittman Incentive Marketing, Monica Hedden works to expand business and grow the existing customer base. As a resident millennial, she offers the insights of a young person in the Employee Engagement industry. For more information on Dittman Incentive Marketing, go to

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