It is not surprising that dealing with millennials, stereotypically pictured as entitled and job-hopping youngsters, poses a challenge for employers in terms of motivation and employee retention. Contrary to their stereotypical image, some researchers state that many millennials in search of employment are not only seeking to find a maintainable lifestyle but also to find a way to have self-defined and satisfying careers. Though Maslow’s hierarchy of needs is considered to be a more traditional approach to motivation, it still explains human needs across a lifespan. As opposed to the last century trends, where people needed to find jobs primarily to meet physiological and safety needs; nowadays, these aspects of life are much more attainable. With the reduced strain of attaining these two basic needs, many millennials find themselves seeking belongingness, esteem and self-actualization early on in their careers. Thus, the level of motivation for millennials may increases if there is a belief that the work done meets a desirable goal or adds a sense of value.

To achieve the sense of belongingness these new employees are seeking, many companies are adopting new techniques that would have once been disregarded under the huge shadow of “needs” the earlier generation was looking for. Where once salaries, bonuses, benefits and succession plans were the sole attraction of employees; words like Collaboration, Getting Better, Acting with Integrity and Care, Community, Environment, Teamwork and lean management have taken a front seat in the discussion. And in unison with these values, by title and insinuation, the fusion these words bestow upon newcomers eases the transition from college to work that millennials face upon their entry into the workforce.

Following Maslow’s pyramid, esteem and self-actualization are also powerful motives driving millennials and generation Z, affecting their careers and job decisions. Programs of recognition adopted by many companies suggest an enhancement to employees’ esteem when company’s do not solely focus on numbers, but alternatively focus on employees’ hard work and creativity. Such programs eliminate the sense of quantifiable results traditionally adopted by companies to measure competence, instead focusing on the qualitative aspects of competence through collaboration and integrity. And research suggests that such endeavours enhance employees’ self-esteem and therefore motivates them. Falling in this continuum, with belongingness and esteem, millennial employees can feel the impact of their work and effort on their respective organization as a whole. Celebrated individually and winning all the accolades collectively as a result of an individual’s effort can provide self-fulfillment and a sense of achieving potential, both of which may lead to growth in a strive for self-actualization.

To further assist millennials and the upcoming generation in their transition to the workplace, many organizations provide the opportunity to employees to interact with industry leaders both within and outside the organization. This initiative helps the fresh-faced employees learn leadership skills informally. It also instils within the individual the sense of comradery that, as a result, elevates and positively affects their job performance.

Millennials’ descend upon the world has been anticipated for years. Many of the programs that have been initiated by companies (at minimal cost) showcase how motivation programs tailored to suit millennials can impact overall company performance and insure sustainable future business. Thus, the power of motivation presented at its best.


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Guy, Z. and Pentz, T. G. (2017) ‘Millenial Employment through Maslow’s Eyes’, Career Planning & Adult Development Journal, 33(2), pp. 22–25.
Maslow, A. H. (1943) ‘A theory of human motivation’, Psychological Review, 50(4), pp. 370–396.
Robbins, S. P. and Judge, T. A. (2017) Organizational behavior / Stephen P. Robbins, Timothy A. Judge. Eighteenth edition, Global edition. Pearson Education Limited.