Guest Column - January/February 2016

The Art of Engaging & Rewarding 'Generation Me'

By Dennis Borst

Here are some ideas that companies have successfully used to motivate millennials. The key component to always remember? Make it personal:

  • Have them personally test new technical office products.
  • Sponsor their attendance to educational conferences.
  • Have them appear in company marketing media, such as print ads, social media videos, company podcasts, etc.
  • Give them a preferred parking spot.
  • Pay to have their car washed on site for peers to see and aspire to.
  • Make a donation to a charity of their choice in their name.
  • Rent them a fantasy car for a week.
  • Award tickets to events and experiences that include their entire family.
  • Create rewards that recognize entire teams as opposed to only individuals.
  • Offer free gourmet lunches.
  • Offer lunchtime yoga workouts.
  • Host a bring-your-dog-to-work day.
  • Stay away from anything one-size-fits-all!

As mentioned previously, millennials have an enhanced fashion sense, so why not consider a private shopping event at a retailer where the recipient is given a gift card and the opportunity to shop at the retailer with a personal shopper/stylist to enhance the experience?

They also enjoy personal travel experiences with access to places not along the normal tour path. This exclusive travel experience will be enhanced to include items relevant to their upgraded travel, like aspirational brands of luggage, sunglasses, apparel, etc.

But let's face it, the single largest portion of the millennial motivation budget will come from the on-the-spot, instant recognition sector. It is here where gift cards remain the most logical fit, but in a specially defined way. Given the millennial's preference for upscale, gourmet foods, one would select dining and beverage options from celebrity chef restaurants, restaurants providing organic food options, and designer coffee and tea beverages. Entertainment gift cards to movies and theme parks will work perfectly here. One must also include gift cards providing personal services that are a must with millennials. Just think about the motivational aspects of a spa gift card to a millennial. Also to be considered are gift cards now being offered by aspirational brands like luggage, watches, sunglasses and apparel. Millennials want the best of the best and will work very hard and remain engaged to get it.

Additional choices for gift cards to motivate millennials would be leading retailers where the newest releases of brands and styles for athletic apparel and footwear, and sporting goods like golf, tennis and skiing are available.

On-the-spot rewards and shorter length-of-service awards as well as motivational strategies aimed specifically to recognize millennials' wants and needs will boost engagement among this crucial workforce segment. A happy, engaged and motivated millennial is a hard-working, valuable asset to your company.

Dennis O. Borst is President and COO of Patriot Marketing Group. He has more than 25 years of experience in the media, promotions and incentives world. He has extensive experience with driving customer behavior, increasing employee engagement and establishing brand identities. Dennis has worked with the NFL, McDonald's, Chevrolet, Lincoln, Ford, Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Toyota, Lexus and Foot Locker.