How to Motivate the Next Generation of Employees

Millennials—people 18–33 years old—are the fastest-growing segment of the workforce across all industries. At the 2015 NAMM Show, CJ Averwater of Amro Music showed music retailers how to attract, motivate and unleash their talent.

“Millennials are going to make up a bigger part of our workforce,” said Averwater, who’s part of a fourth-generation family business. “As managers and business owners, we have to understand and be able to relate to them.”

Averwater pointed out that many of the generalizations about millennials (also known as Gen Y), such as that they’re lazy and entitled, were also said about previous generations. And for music retailers, it’s important to understand what millennials’ interests and values are and how they fit into a multigenerational workforce alongside Gen X and baby boomer staff.

“Millennials are coming in with a high level of energy and a high level of passion,” Averwater said. “And we almost don’t know how to work with that.”

He noted that 91 percent of millennials expect to change jobs every one to three years.

“We’ve already learned how to manage—so much of working with millennials is about reminding ourselves what it was like to be that age and starting out on day one with a new company,” Averwater said.

He also provided useful keys to understanding their career aspirations and knowing how to motivate them as employees:

Independence. Millennials want you to share the company’s vision and get out of the way to let them do it. They also want you to set clear goals and expectations and provide constant feedback.

Mentorship. Millennials want face time, so set aside time to talk with them. We often forget about educating, training and providing them with resources. Set up a mentorship program that teams up younger employees with veteran team members. The program can be as simple as having them go to lunch once every couple of months. Get them involved by bringing them to The NAMM Show and with groups, such as NAMM Young Professionals.

Social interactions. Millennials don’t see a line between co-workers and friends. The younger generation is hyper-connected and networks through social media. You can encourage collaborative relationships in groups, such as social events that include guests, spouses or family members.

It’s about the “why.” Millennials want to be involved and work for a company that has core values and mission statements that align with their own values. They want to see that what they do affects the goal of the company and that it’s not just about making a profit. They’re also not interested in hierarchy.

Averwater encouraged retailers to take these actions steps:

1. Create a mission statement. Music is about passion and education, and millennials want to share your mission. Use your mission statement when hiring, during the interview, so they know how their job will impact the company goals.

2. Encourage discussion and seek input. Millennials want transparency and to know that their opinions matter. They want to be heard, so listen.

“Our goal is to create a company where people want to work versus need to work,” Averwater said. “We’re interested in getting the very best people.”

​Recognize what drives millennials, and get them moving in the same direction as your business.