To Motivate Millennials, You First Must Understand Them

by Dr. Rick Goodman on September 13, 2017

Millennials are widely perceived to be job hoppers, jumping from position to position in an effort to climb the ladder. This is at odds with the way things were in decades past, when loyalty to a particular employer was a much bigger concern than it is today. And for employers, it can cause some unease: You may want very much to include millennials in your team, but how can you truly depend on people who are just going to leave you at the first available opportunity?

Well, the thing is, millennials aren’t simply fickle or disloyal; rather, they’re motivated differently than members of previous generations were. Understanding that can go a long way toward keeping millennials engaged with your team—and yes, that can increase their loyalty, too.

What Drives Millennials?

To this end, I find a recent Forbes report to be helpful. The article goes into detail about the top reasons why millennials quit their jobs—and in doing so, it reveals some opportunities for greater motivation.

Let me show you what I mean.

  • The top reason why millennials leave a position, Forbes explains, is because they find a better opportunity elsewhere. This is a problem that companies can address by providing a clearer road map for professional growth; in other words, create in-house opportunities so that your team members won’t have to look for them elsewhere. “It’s not that millennials are inherently disloyal,” says the article. “It’s that millennials want opportunities to grow and develop. Great companies provide opportunity to the best employees so they don’t feel like they have to go looking elsewhere.”
  • Millennials employees also leave jobs because they want to go back to school—but here again, there is an opportunity for leaders to truly invest in their younger team members, and to show an interest in their professional development. “If millennials are returning to school solely because they believe it will advance their careers, maybe the company is not doing enough to give employees opportunities inside the building,” says Forbes. In-house training and education can be invaluable tools for employee retention.
  • Along the same lines, Forbes says one of the top reasons millennials leave their job is so that they can learn new skills. “Generally speaking, this is a bad reason to lose a good employee,” reads the article. “Good companies help their employees develop and grow. And they allow employees to pivot. Skill, talent, and passion need to meet. When they don’t, something needs to change.”

The bottom line? If you can identify the main things that motivate millennial employees to pursue career change, that gives you a sign of what you can do to keep them on board—to truly motivate them and engage them with your team’s mission.

Dr. Rick Goodman CSP is a thought leader in the world of leadership and one of the most sought after conference keynote speakers on leadership, engagement, and business growth in the United States and internationally.

He is the author of the books Living A Championship Life “A Game Plan for Success” and My Team Sucked “10 Rules That Turned Them Into Rock Stars.” He is also the co-author of the book Jamie’s Journey: Travels with My Dad, written with his sixteen-year-old daughter Jamie.

Dr. Rick is famous for helping organizations, corporations, and individuals with systems, strategies, and solutions that encourage engagement, resulting in increased profits and productivity without having the challenges of micromanaging the process. Some of Dr. Rick’s clients include Heineken, AT&T, Boeing, Cavium Networks, IBM, Hewlett Packard, and Franklin Templeton Investments.

You can contact Dr. Rick at or call 888-267-6098.

Dr. Rick GoodmanTo Motivate Millennials, You First Must Understand Them