The mere utterance of the word "millennials" in the workplace sends eyes rolling. Those kiddos born between the early 1980s and early 2000s got the reputation of being entitled, annoying and egotistic. Maybe they aren't all like that. Maybe some don't want a participation trophy for every accomplishment. Maybe we can find a way to all work together in harmony no matter what age.

The Real Problem

Millennials cannot be changing the entire mood of the workplace all around the globe. The answer might actually be that we aren't annoyed by millennials, but that the nature of the work in the workplace is the culprit. Each workplace must change their ways so everyone loves coming to work. An HR professional may think throwing money at each employee and giving them other perks will motivate everyone, but it won't. Each company must focus on the heart of the workplace. A paycheck can only carry each employee so far. They must feel recognized and engaged to return to work year after year. Optimizing workplace productivity starts with making employees happy. No matter the employee's age, they shouldn't fear going to work. There are ways to make managing millennials in the workplace less complicated and more fun.

Make Work Challenging

We all need to feel challenged and stimulated by our work. Boring tasks lead employees to surf the internet or text a few friends. Employees need a purpose and need to know what they are doing matters to the company. Be straight about the company's mission and goals for each project and as an overall business. This helps the employee know exactly what they need to do to reach the goals.

Recognition

Employees want a pat on the back when they feel they've done a good job and when they've furthered the mission of the company. It's easy to show people the company recognizes the employees' efforts. Not everyone warrants a participation trophy, but some might love a nice piece with a trophy engraving that states "Employee of the Month" or "Completed Project Above Expectations." Tailor each trophy engraving to each employee's achievement, of course. How easy is it to jot a few words on a piece of paper and sign it? The art of a handwritten thank you note seems archaic, but to a millennial that never sees one, it's magic.

Rewards

Parents often give children rewards for doing chores. They get a gold star or an extra 30 minutes screen time. Employees can get rewards for achieving goals. Some people don't want money or a trophy engraving. Some people would love an extra hour of lunch, an extra vacation day or a gift card to the local coffee shop.

Healthy Work Environment

Going to work shouldn't feel like a trip to prison. Create a happy, healthy work environment so employees feel like it's a second home where they enjoy to visit. Not every workplace will have the same environment so tailor it to your business. Have fun, but work hard. Play light music, serve donuts in the breakroom and send motivational emails. Simple gestures make people happy to go to work.

In summary, make your employees feel special. When work life balance is in order, employees want to work harder. When employees work harder, your business thrives. Everyone wins.