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It’s Time to End the Myth That Millennials Need Constant Praise

February 7, 2017, 11:00 AM UTC
young man looking at glowing tropy
Young man in urban enviornment looking at glowing tropy,
Photograph by Henrik Sorensen—Getty Images

The Leadership Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question, “How can you help millennials feel like they’re part of the company?” is written by Kris Duggan, CEO of BetterWorks.

If there is one thing we can all agree on about millennials, it’s that they’ve changed the future of work for the better. No other generation has been so underestimated in spirit, yet so scrutinized at the same time.

There are currently more millennials in the workplace than any other generation. It’s their preferences and ideas that have ultimately driven a more transparent and collaborative world of business. When we embrace the millennial generation, with all their quirks and preferences, we benefit from much more than a community of hard-working individuals. We also gain their creativity, inspiration, and new outlook on how a business should function.

If you’re trying to improve the happiness, retention, and productivity of millennial employees, stop trying to make them feel like they’re part of your company at the surface level. Give them these three things to ensure that they become the driving force behind your organization’s success:

Offer continuous feedback

Only 19% of millennials receive routine feedback, according to a Gallup study. Millennials were raised on instantaneous feedback from parents, teachers, and coaches. They have never lived in a world without the Internet, where one quick search results in an immediate answer. Therefore millennials expect a feedback loop and continuous communication.

At BetterWorks, we’ve found that millennials thrive on weekly one-on-one meetings with their direct managers, where goals and progress are openly discussed. These meetings are instrumental in ensuring that millennials—and really all employees—understand how their work adds value to the company.

Empower them

In my experience, when you allot responsibility to a millennial, they’ll rarely let you down. When millennials take ownership of their goals, they tend to develop a sense of purpose and passion for their work. Then they want to solve even bigger problems.

Our team leads recently met offsite to brainstorm ideas and plan for the year ahead. About half of the leaders at BetterWorks are millennials, and in the position of managing and deciding the strategic direction of our company. I was inspired just by looking around the room. The millennials present weren’t afraid to voice their opinions, or explain how their ideas could help us reach our goals.

Recognize major wins

There is a common misconception that young employees expect to be rewarded for every single thing they do. The truth is that they’d prefer only to be recognized for significant accomplishments, just as any other employee would. More important, though, is for them to feel that their contributions matter for the future of the company.


To make millennials feel that their work is important, you need to give them feedback and public recognition. I recently attended a briefing for a new client with one of our millennial employees on the customer success team. She did an amazing job briefing their team, and helped sway their decision to make a bigger purchase of our software.

After the meeting, I notified our entire team of her strong work and explained how her contribution matters in the scope of our 2017 strategy and vision. Not only was the employee immediately inundated with praise from her colleagues, but the entire team caught a glimpse of how one person’s contribution can play a starring role in the success of our company.

When millennials are given feedback, responsibility, and recognition, they thrive. They will want to stick with your company, because they’ll fully understand why they’re an integral part of your success. And don’t think this only applies to the millennial generation—every employee across your business can benefit from these principles.