Employee Research Demonstrates Which Rewards Keep Millennials Happiest and Most Productive Compared with Other Employees

New employee research from Blackhawk Engagement Solutions reveals that current employee rewards and recognition programs—a key component in growing employee happiness—are not aligned with what makes Millennial employees happy and more productive.

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“Millennials are accustomed to attention and praise from their earliest days, and expect regular affirmation in the workplace. They are also prepared to switch jobs earlier and more frequently than previous generations, so employers need to take particular steps to maintain Millennial engagement,” said Rodney Mason, GVP of Marketing with Blackhawk Engagement Solutions, an international incentives and engagement company.

“All-expense-paid trips and tickets to sporting events have little appeal for Millennials. Instead, they want more immediate and consistent recognition for their professional contributions and love the immediate gratification of prepaid card rewards.”

“Happy Millennials: An Employee Rewards & Recognition Study” is the second of a four-part national survey that questioned 1,800 salaried and hourly employed Americans, including nearly 350 Millennials, about the key components of employee happiness, and the particular role rewards and recognition programs play in workplace satisfaction.

Key findings from the Millennial happiness survey include:

Millennials maintain work/life balance: All employees ranked “job” in the bottom half of 12 factors that contribute to their happiness; Millennials ranked it almost last. As work/life balance continues to exert its influence, Millennials rank job behind family, friends, hobbies, music, food and drink and even pets. Yet at the same time, 65 percent said job is still important to their overall happiness.

Millennials are happy and comfortable at work—except with rewards and recognition: Employers may expect Millennials to have a long list of what’s not measuring up in the workplace, yet the opposite is true. Millennials are engaged at their jobs, with the majority having a clear understanding of what is expected of them, opportunities to learn and bosses who seem to care about them. However, only 40 percent are happy with the rewards and recognition programs that their companies offer, and 39 percent say their employers don’t offer any rewards or recognition.

Affirmation is key to Millennials’ happiness: Millennials expect and respond to personal attention. Sixty-four percent of Millennials would prefer to be recognized for a personal accomplishment, as opposed to a team accomplishment. They also prefer recognition directly from a manager or via a companywide announcement, versus peer-to-peer. When asked what they most wanted recognition for,

85 percent of Millennials want to be rewarded for exceeding personal performance levels, 80 percent for receiving a promotion, and 79 percent for exceeding team performance levels.

Many Millennials are not eligible for rewards: Even when rewards and recognition are part of the company culture, sizeable portions of the Millennial workforce are not eligible to receive them.

Safety rewards are not available to 82 percent of Millennials; spot rewards aren’t given to 67 percent; and wellness rewards are not available to 48 percent.

A reward is less valuable without recognition: Even when Millennials do receive rewards at work, they’re not necessarily the kind they want. Forty-three percentof Millennials who receive some type of reward don’t receive recognition rewards. Older employees are also not happy with recognition programs, but don’t show the same sensitivity as Millennials do.

Prepaid cards satisfy Millennials’ needs for instant gratification: Millennials appreciate vast choice and instant gratification, making reward selection convenient for employers. Prepaid cards meet both needs, and are overwhelmingly preferred by Millennials and other employees alike. A staggering 91 percent of Millennials said if they were to earn a reward worth $100, they would want it in the form of a prepaid card versus a reward that could be redeemed online from select merchants or credit for a reward catalog.

The “Happy Millennials” report can be downloaded in its entirety here.

Blackhawk Engagement Solutions

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