Lead with the ‘Why’: How to Emphasize Purpose to Attract Millennials

Purpose Over Paycheck: How to Show Millennials the Meaning Behind the WorkWhat is your company’s mission? If you said it was to sell widgets or provide advice, you’re not going to be in the best position to attract millennial employees.

That’s because many millennials are inspired to work when they know their company has a purpose beyond profits. In fact, more than half of college-educated millennials cite a “sense of purpose,” as part of the reason they chose to work for their current employers, according to research from Deloitte.

Companies that want to attract and retain millennials need to have a clear sense of their purpose and convey to employees how their roles contribute to that greater goal. This doesn’t mean that money is not important or valued (particularly for millennials paying off onerous student loan debt and those struggling to make ends meet without any support); it means that money is not always the most important factor in millennials’ career decisions. The articles below give more insight into this “purpose over paycheck” mentality — which, by the way, resonates with many of us in other generations as well.

Connect Their Input to Your Output

“Most [millennials] aren’t content being a corporate cog. They want to be a part of something and to know they’re needed to accomplish the team’s goals. As soon as they’re made to feel like a replaceable, results-producing machine, they’ll check out or head for the door. … But if you can provide them with a compelling vision and a purpose for what they’re doing, if you show them how their skills can contribute to the team’s overall goals, you won’t be able to get them to stop working.” —  Read more at The Huffington Post.

Pull Back the Curtain on Your Company’s Performance

“New research from Robert Half Management Resources reveals many professionals would like more information about how their efforts contribute to the company’s bottom line. While nearly half of workers in the survey reported they are always able to see the connection between their duties and their firm’s performance, the majority (53 percent) also said they want greater insights. … ‘Employees who see the direct correlation between their contributions and company performance are more engaged, make better spending decisions, and can identify new ways to increase productivity and growth,’ said Tim Hird, executive director of Robert Half Management Resources.”—  Read more at Bulldog Reporter.

Let Them Know How Any Tasks Contributes to Success

“The answer is to give them meaningful work, according to research by economists Michael Kosfeld, Susanne Neckermann, and Xiaolan Yang published on the economics commentary website VoxEU. Or at least motivate staff to believe their work has meaning. Knowing that you matter really does matter, according to the study, ‘which suggests that the provision of meaning can be a low-cost instrument to stimulate work effort.’ In a survey of 413 students in Hangzhou, China, academics got output to increase by telling a group of study participants that their data-input work was of great importance to a research project. Another group was told the work was just a quality check that would probably never get used. The performance of those told that their work was of great importance ranked about 15% higher in the data-entry task.” —  Read more at Wall Street Journal.

Intrinsic Motivation is the Key to Long-Lasting Motivation

“Employees are motivated by rewards and recognition. But these are extrinsic motivators and go only so far; eventually, they lose their appeal. The key to lasting motivation goes deeper — it’s intrinsic. And purpose fuels intrinsic motivation….when leaders listen to employees and explain the purpose behind a task, the latter are more interested and more motivated to do well. Meaningful work is the spark that ignites intrinsic motivation — it’s what leads employees to work hard because they want to, not because they have to.”—  Read more at  Entrepreneur.

How do you let millennials know that their involvement is vital to your mission? And millennials, how can your workplace better engage you in a larger purpose? I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas in the comments below.

Lindsey Pollak is the leading voice on millennials in the workplace, trusted by global companies, universities, the world’s top media outlets — and, most importantly, by millennials themselves. A New York Times bestselling author, Lindsey began her career as a dorm RA in college and has been mentoring millennials — and explaining them to other generations — ever since. Her keynote speeches have audiences so engaged that, in the words of one attendee, “I didn’t check my phone once!” Contact Lindsey to discuss a speaking engagement for your organization.

4 Responses to “Lead with the ‘Why’: How to Emphasize Purpose to Attract Millennials”

  1. Undecided? Why Experts Suggest Exploring Majors - CampusTap

    […] While eradicating majors completely may be far in the future for most colleges, the idea lends to the fact that students are looking for more purpose in their education, and eventually in their career. […]

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  2. How to Emphasize Purpose to Attract Millennials | Events and Everything Nice

    […] Pollak, L. (2016, September 09). Lead with the ‘Why’: How to Emphasize Purpose to Attract Millennials – Lindsey Pollak. Retrieved September 18, 2016, from https://www.lindseypollak.com […]

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    […] Graduate: Why Colleges Must Talk to Students about Vocation by Tim Clydesdale and articles from Lindesy Pollak about emphasizing purpose in the workplace to attract millennials, it is clear the subject of […]

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