14 JAN, 2016

Your Millennial Employees Don’t Want “Stuff”

With all the talk lately around the Powerball jackpot and what you might do if you found yourself a millionaire (or billionaire), you might hear many people say the first thing they would do is travel the world. These dreamers are not alone. A recent article in the Wall Street Journal entitled “Millennial Shoppers Don’t Fit the Norm” depicts a 35 and under crowd that ascribes little importance to material things in favor of experiences, giving up shopping trips for trips around the world.

The shift is not surprising, given the massive college debts many deal with for decades after graduation. Add to that the rising cost of living and stagnant wage growth, and you have a whole generation of people that cannot imagine spending extra on luxury items when they’re struggling to pay rent or save for a home. At the same time, a comfortable retirement is no longer a certainty for Gen Y’ers so it’s become important for them to experience life and the world now rather than wait for a future that is not guaranteed.

These same Millennial employees are using your rewards and recognition program. They want to be able to visit restaurants with friends, go to a wine tasting, or at least be able to shop online and buy something they need. Directing them into a catalog with a limited amount of merchandise that is deemed to have “trophy value” is not going to cut it.

Be creative when designing your rewards selection, and keep your target audience in mind. If you don’t have the budget for trips, you can still offer meaningful experiences. Some examples include free training courses, extra paid time off, lunch with the CEO, or even use of the company box at a sporting event. Most achievements do not require a monetary reward at all and can simply be acknowledged with a featured story on your intranet or recognition website that can garner the “likes” and comments younger employees aspire to gather on other social media outlets.

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