There is something special about the challenge young people face when attempting to make a team. This healthy competition ignites a desire to perform that cannot easily be replicated for young workers. Regardless of the sport, the desire to achieve and play is a remarkable source of intrinsic motivation. Imagine the potential if an organization could replicate this source of motivation on the job. What would happen to key organizational metrics like attendance and productivity?
High school sports may hold the key to attracting, retaining and motivating the best of millennials. This generation of Americans has been labeled as “lazy” and unproductive in the workplace. They will be 75% of our workforce by 2025. Older managers cannot seem to tap the potential offered by the smartest generation of workers to date. This generational disconnect comes from the perception of work. Previous generations were motivated by the need to get that “good” job. Parents living through the great depression and the promise of lifetime security made getting the “right job” the prize.
Today these carrots no longer exist and the new generation has difficulty placing a job as the focal point of life. The social side of life holds far greater value than the traditional view of work for young Americans. The evidence exists in the connectivity to peers and the need to broadcast life’s simplest activities on social media.
The difference for a young worker may seem subtle, yet the result in the workplace is significant. If the job seems menial or has little personal value, its significance is comparable to that trip to the dentist. It’s a necessary and often unpleasant activity that must be tolerated. On the other hand, if we can create value in the activity, the desire to attend and perform will improve dramatically.
The feeling of making work special is the key to attracting and keeping the best young talent. After all, if we undervalue their contribution, why would they consider it to have value? Businesses have worked very hard to devalue human talent in the past and now we act surprised when the “job” holds no importance to the worker.
If coveted positions in your organization are difficult to achieve yet opportunity exists, today’s workers will remain challenged. The elevation of new workers and their contribution is essential. Paying dues or ritualistic hazing will not improve attendance or retention. Today’s workers must be challenged, or they become bored. Highly engaged and challenged workers show up and produce no matter their age. Creating a workplace to attract the best workers and select “only” the best will change your organization. You must market a message of exclusivity and uniqueness to your team constantly. You must believe the message first!
More amazing is the effort these workers will exert to make your team. If there is no value in being on the team, you will not retain the best. Treating your workers like pawns begets more pawns, while treating them like winners attracts more winners. The attitude you bring to work is always visible to the team. You can’t hide your lying eyes. And your smile is a thin disguise. If you believe people are special they will know. If you believe people are interchangeable parts they will know. Next time you complain about attendance, look in the mirror. Please share your comments.