Most people would consider me to be a part of Generation Y, those born since 1980. Researcher and author, Marc Prensky splits this generation into two categories as follows. The older Gen Y members he refers to as “Digital immigrants.” Those who can be sophisticated in their use of technologies, but also rely on traditional forms of analog interaction. I fall into a demographic that Marc refers to as “Digital natives.” Those who grew up with technology, devices, and of course the internet. The Digital Native's daily activities are consumed by technologies supporting social interaction, friendships, and hobbies among other things. Get ready, my generation is rapidly emerging as the world’s dominant demographic and employers will need to learn how best to adapt. Below I include three suggested methods for managers that I try to focus on, and/or plan to implement and why.
Focus on the human element not Financial Results
Among the most significant methods of starting to motivate your staff includes changing the way you speak about your business. While shareholders and investors oftentimes care about an organization’s financial performance, many workers do not have much interest in the financial results of the company, nor do they draw a direct connection between such results and their salary. Research indicates that younger workers, Generation Y, often embrace more of this mindset and like to feel that their work has a positive impact on society. Gen Y professionals seek a fun, work-life balance with flexible schedules and gravitate towards tasks that provide a sense of accomplishment.
As Digital Natives join the workforce employers that struggle to support the interest’s of Gen Y will find workforce management even more challenging. After all, Digital Natives are highly adept at leveraging the very technologies used to disrupt industries today.
My suggestion is to find ways to motivate your staff based on the impact the firm has on society rather than emphasizing financial statistics and results. This will become more and more appealing to your workers. In taking this approach in meetings and every employee-manager interaction it will inspire a more natural engagement from staff and increase productivity. Seek a balance between work and life. Your employees will be happier and so will you.
Spend Less Time Micro-Managing
Most times, busy managers will spend so much time trying to control and micro-manage the efforts of their workers they forget to inspire them. Studies have found that people working for leaders that they discover to be inspiring often are more satisfied, productive, and committed. This will be even more important as Digital Natives join the workforce because these individuals are highly skilled at social media related interactions where broad and efficient communication among their support network exists.
Digital Natives form opinions and expectations much faster than older workers that are either aligned with company culture, or not. Further, they can likely find work elsewhere quickly, as they are networked. Management must become adept at understanding how best to motivate such employees.
While it may be challenging to take time to work to inspire workers rather than manage their work for them, leaders that take this approach typically form stronger relationships and have more committed, more motivated, and more focused employees working for them. Inspire the ones around you and pay attention to the message delivered. Results might surprise you.
Leverage technology - If you can’t beat em join em
People tend to gravitate towards entertaining applications before those used for business. Facebook has over 1.3 billion users globally, it makes sense that social feeds and now gamification models would make their way into business management.
I'm paying close attention to how business social network, Yammer, and gamification provider, Badgeville, are exploring ways to improve collaboration and motivation among workers. Badgeville is experimenting with a program that rewards employees with points and badges in return for completing social activities such as watching training videos, sharing content among other employees or contributing to the company blog.
Digital Natives grew up with rewards, social games, and feeds online. It makes perfect sense that similar solutions can be applied within daily work routines and would be appealing and intuitive. It also makes sense that employers look to technology to address the interests of tech savvy workers in ways that improve motivation and productivity. At some point such tools may be considered indispensable.
Whether it’s financial results that best motivate your workers, or focusing on a positive impact on society and work-life balance, one thing is certain, social and achievement related technologies are destined to play an ever growing role in worker management.
As tech savvy Digital Natives join the workforce, I believe that employers who adopt enterprise oriented achievement and social related technologies will gain invaluable visibility into worker behavior, interests and needs. They will do so in ways that human managers simply cannot provide and ultimately this insight will be used to improve the workplace.