All posts

Rewards and Recognition: How to Recruit and Retain Millennials

~11min reading time
Employee holding a paper with "I quit" written on it.

Did you know that millennials are pretty much taking over the workforce? By 2025, they're expected to make up 75% of the global workplace, according to Deloitte! These folks, born between 1981 and 1996, aren’t just about any old job; they want something that means something. Plus, they're super tech-savvy and socially aware.

But here’s the thing – lots of companies are scratching their heads trying to figure out how to recruit and retain millennials who are often dissatisfied with their work environment, prone to job-hopping and quiet quitting, and want to feel valued by their managers and co-workers.

Gallup research found that job-hopping costs the global economy a staggering $8.8 trillion in lost productivity annually, equating to 9% of global GDP! Businesses can’t afford not to cater to millennial needs in the workplace.

So, what can HR managers and bosses do? Well, first up, they've got to understand what makes millennials tick. Recognition and reward programs that are thoughtfully designed to make employees feel appreciated and engaged are more important than ever. The era of the once-a-year Christmas bonus is over; today’s workforce demands year-round, tailored incentive programs to keep the best talent on board.

In this article, we are diving into the nitty-gritty of what makes millennials stay put and how to cheer them on in the workplace. Get ready for some top tips!

78% of Irish millennials will quit their jobs by 2026

In Ireland, millennials are a big deal in the workforce where they account for about 34% (and growing). But the concept of “quiet quitting”, where employees disengage from their work and look for better opportunities elsewhere, without expressing their dissatisfaction to their managers, has become increasingly prevalent among this group.

In fact, Deloitte found that 43% of global millennials and a whopping 78% of Irish millennials plan to leave their current jobs within the next two years. Why? They're not feeling the growth, recognition, or vibe with company values. Also, they want flexibility in their work life.

Turns out, a lot of them aren’t exactly thrilled at work. Only 25% of Irish millennials feel engaged and 50% feel like their hard work goes unnoticed. This is a big deal, as it messes with their productivity, happiness, and whether they stick around in a job or “quiet-quit”. And let’s not forget, when people leave, it's a headache for the company too.

Recognition and Rewards Retain Millennial Employees

Who doesn't love a pat on the back? Millennials are all about getting feedback and feeling valued. SHRM research found that nearly 80% of millennials would be more loyal if they got more recognition but sadly, 76% of them feel like they’re "seldom to never" eligible for employee rewards.

The study also found that millennials prefer rewards that are personalised, timely, and meaningful, rather than generic, delayed, or irrelevant.

Millennial Rewards = Higher Productivity and Low Turnover Rates

Setting up a rewards program for millennials can do wonders. It can make them more committed, happy, and even perform better. It’s about making them feel good about their work and themselves. Plus, it means they might stick around longer, feel less stressed, and even call in sick less.

This kind of program can also make them more collaborative and creative. And guess what? Companies with great rewards programs tend to do better – think lower turnover rates and happier customers.

For example, rewards and benefits can:

  • Increase millennial engagement, commitment, and performance by reinforcing positive behaviours and outcomes and aligning them with company goals and values.
  • Enhance their well-being, happiness, and satisfaction by fulfilling their psychological needs for autonomy, competence, and relatedness, and boosting their self-esteem and confidence.
  • Reduce their turnover, absenteeism, and stress by increasing their loyalty, trust, and belonging, and decreasing their frustration and dissatisfaction.
  • Improve their collaboration, innovation, and diversity by fostering a culture of appreciation, feedback, and learning, and celebrating their achievements and contributions.

Plus, the potential return on investment of recognition and reward programs for millennials is huge. The Incentive Research Foundation found companies that roll out recognition and reward programs experience 31% lower turnover rates, 18% higher productivity, 14% higher customer satisfaction, and 12% higher profitability than those that don’t.

Recognition and Rewards Ideas That Millennials Love

Now for the fun part – exploring easy-to-action ideas for showing millennials some love in the workplace. While these strategies may require an initial investment, they are designed to save much more in the long run. Research shows that job-hopping costs the global economy a staggering $8.8 trillion in lost productivity annually, with the cost of replacing an individual employee ranging from one-half to two times their annual salary.

By implementing the following reward and recognition ideas, companies can focus on forming a year-round incentive program, bridging the long gap between annual bonuses like Christmas rewards. Why? Because keeping your team happy and valued all year round is the secret sauce to less turnover and more productivity!

Employee of the Month/Quarter/Year Program

This traditional yet highly popular method of recognition and reward is effective in promoting a culture of excellence and consistent performance. By acknowledging outstanding employees regularly, it encourages others to strive for similar recognition, thereby creating a competitive yet collaborative work environment.

Performance Bonuses

Performance bonuses are monetary incentives that motivate millennials to exceed targets, directly tackling the issue of quiet-quitting. By linking bonuses to specific achievements like sales or customer satisfaction, employees are given a tangible goal and a reason to push beyond standard expectations, aligning personal success with company objectives.

Spot Bonuses

Spot bonuses have a unique impact by surprising and delighting employees, reinforcing positive behaviour, and exceptional performance. This spontaneous recognition nurtures a culture where extra effort and innovation are noticed and appreciated, enhancing employee engagement and satisfaction in the workplace.

Years of Service Awards

Years of service awards are a strategic recognition tool, especially relevant in today's job market where the average tenure for millennials is approximately 3 years. By celebrating milestones like 5, 10, or 15 years of service, employers can directly address the growing trend of job hopping. These awards not only show an employer’s appreciation and respect for their workforce but also serve as a tangible incentive for millennials to stay longer with the company.

Training and Development Rewards

Training and development rewards are crucial for nurturing millennials’ career growth and enhancing their performance. By offering opportunities to learn new skills and advance their careers, these programs not only support professional development but also play a key role in retaining employees. Without these opportunities, millennials are likely to seek self-improvement elsewhere and may soon leave for jobs that better fulfil their aspirations. Remember that investing in your millennial workforce's growth is more cost-effective than hiring and training new staff!

Milestone Celebrations

Milestone celebrations not only create a positive and fun work environment for millennials but also play a crucial role in fostering their social and emotional connections at work. Celebrating key personal and professional milestones of employees, such as birthdays, anniversaries, promotions, graduations, or achievements, contributes to a culture where every team member feels seen and valued. While work may not always feel like a family, such recognition helps in retaining millennial workers by showing them they are an important part of the company's journey and success.

Holiday Rewards and Bonuses

Holiday rewards and bonuses are an expression of gratitude and generosity towards employees during holiday seasons such as Christmas. These rewards or bonuses can range from a prepaid digital Mastercard to gift cards, cash bonuses, hampers, and vouchers. They play a crucial role in boosting employee morale and loyalty. Receiving such tokens of appreciation not only makes employees feel valued and acknowledged but also strengthens their emotional connection to the company, improving overall job satisfaction and retention.

Using CleverCards to Recruit and Retain Millennials

If you’re looking for fun and rewarding options for your millennial employees, CleverCards prepaid digital Mastercards are becoming increasingly popular as they provide flexibility and a sense of empowerment due to the nature of the cards, which can be spent anywhere in the world. Perfect for millennials who value flexibility, freedom, and endless choice!

And here's the best part: you don't need to break the bank or wrestle with tax woes. Thanks to the Small Benefit Exemption Scheme, you can gift CleverCards prepaid Mastercards twice a year, tax-free up to €1,000 each.

Ready to kickstart your incentive program? Learn more on our Employee Benefits page or request a callback from a member of the CleverCards team using the form below.