Changing Workplace Demographics: Incentives for Millennials

Changing Workplace Demographics: Incentives for Millennials

Mark Herbert

incentives for millennials

When it comes to the science of motivation, demographics matter. Different incentive rewards and incentive marketing tactics will appeal to different segments of your target audience. It’s no secret that millennials have shaken things up, and that companies need to be mindful of these changes when designing incentives for millennials.

Consider the following statistics, especially as they relate to employee engagement and B2B sales:

  • Millennials make up over 35% of the U.S. workforce, making them the largest generation in the labor force.
  • It’s estimated that millennials will “job hop” up to 20 times over the course of their career (approximately twice as much as baby boomers).
  • Millennials are responsible for half of all B2B product research, with one-third reporting that they are the sole decision-maker for their department.
  • When it comes to work environment, millennials value engagement and transparency above all else.
  • When choosing vendors, 80% of millennial B2B buyers feel that company values, trust, compatibility, and connectedness are important factors, sometimes more so than business benefits and deliverables.

Companies who fail to tailor their approach to appeal to millennial sensibilities risk falling behind in terms of talent acquisition and retention and missing the mark with their B2B marketing. Luckily, incorporating incentives for millennials can help to smooth things over, creating engagement, conveying brand values, and building trust.

Tailoring Your Incentive Platform to Digital Natives

The millennial generation, born between 1981 and 1996, are often referred to as “digital natives.” Tech savvy, they are known for their “comfort and facility with digital technology.” In fact, when making B2B purchasing decisions, millennials prefer to take things into their own hands. Over 60% of millennials prefer to do their own research online before ever contacting a sales rep.

As mentioned earlier, millennials value engagement and connectivity. The most effective means of engaging them are via digital mediums – web, email, and SMS – and to focus on providing intuitive, responsive, accessible user experiences.

Before you start thinking about implementing incentives for millennials, you need to make sure your program provides robust participant software platforms. Here are a few of the things we offer that appeal to millennial participants from the technological side of things:

  • Participant Portal: We allow participants to easily access their incentive program online, with all their information and shopping options just a click or two away. We also offer custom integrations and single sign-on to make interfacing with your incentive program even more effortless.
  • Mobile App: The average millennial checks their phone 150 times a day, and 83% of millennials admit to sleeping with their cellphone within arm’s reach. Of course, participation for your incentive program will be higher if you integrate your program with a mobile app that includes push notifications and data upload tools.
  • Online Rewards Catalog: Millennials do more than 54% of their shopping online. It only makes sense that incentives for millennials should provide a convenient, online reward redemption experience.
  • Gamification & Social Elements: Gamification is the use of game-like elements – points, rewards, and competitive elements – to increase engagement for online platforms. Interactive gamification and social media-based modules, such as Spin-to-Win, Leaderboard, and Total Recognition Suite, are designed to appeal to millennial audiences.
  • Learn-and-Earn: Learn-and-Earn is a software module that allows you to create interactive quizzes, trivia, and surveys for your participants. It’s an effective way to educate participants on your brand values, creating a sense of connectivity, and rewarding millennial employees and B2B buyers alike for learning more about your company and what you stand for.
  • Omni-channel Program Communication: Omni-channel program communication increases millennial enrollment and participation and makes them feel more connected to your brand.

Merchandise Incentives for Millennials

When designing incentives for millennials, it’s important to look at which rewards will provide effective motivation. If you’re running a merchandise program, make sure your catalog includes a selection of great electronic products (digital natives love their tech!). Electronics & Apple Products are consistently among the most redeemed categories from our online catalog. AirPods, iPads, Amazon Echo Dot Speakers, and Wi-Fi Smart Doorbells are popular reward items that appeal to millennial sensibilities.

Additionally, experiential rewards, such as movie or event tickets, or allowing your participants to redeem their points for airline tickets, are an effective way to motivate millennials. Approximately 72% of millennials report that they value experiences more than they do material objects.

Millennials are also highly idealistic, valuing altruism and social responsibility. Offering the option to redeem points toward charitable donations can go a long way towards making millennials feel that engaging with your incentive program and your brand is a worthy cause.

Gift Card Incentives for Millennials

If you are running a gift card program, it’s important to offer options for brands that resonate with millennial participants, such as Starbucks and Amazon. One of the benefits of card programs is that deliverability is almost instant. Millennials are known as the “instant gratification” generation.

Whether you’re offering merchandise, debit, or gift card rewards, fast and convenient fulfillment is a must. Millennials don’t like to wait!

The Importance of Incentive Travel for Millennials

Incentive travel is an important motivator for millennials. According to multiple self-reported surveys, millennials are more adventure-seeking than previous generations and put a greater emphasis on the travel experience. The numbers back this up. In 2015, 82% of millennials traveled for leisure. On average, millennials take 1.3 more business trips a year than Generation X’ers and 1.4 more than baby boomers.

Furthermore, 97% of millennials share their travel experiences on social media, making incentive travel a valuable social currency in millennial culture. Social currencies are extremely effective at motivating changes in behavior. In fact, behavior changes that are motivated by social currencies are more significant and longer-lasting than those motivated by cash or verbal praise.

Incentive travel is also a valuable tool for creating longer-lasting relationships, using shared experience to amplify positive emotions. Shared emotional experiences activate areas of the brain associated with dopamine production. This motivates people to repeat similar behaviors and to feel more connected to the people (or companies!) they share these experiences with.

This psychological principle also makes incentive travel a useful way to solidify customer loyalty with millennial B2B buyers. And that relational equity can also be used to offset the high rate of turnover for millennial employees.

Now is the Time

By 2025, millennials are expected to make up 75% of the U.S. workforce. As baby boomers retire, millennials will be promoted to management positions and will be more and more involved in B2B purchasing decisions.

Now is the time to start looking into creating effective incentives for millennials and designing incentive programs that will give you a competitive advantage in the years to come!


Mark Herbert

President & CEO