I recently participated in a roundtable with other business leaders to discuss issues facing our organizations and get feedback from the group. One company president expressed this frustration: "We installed a profit sharing bonus plan for our employees and it absolutely bombed." Another in the group immediately asked, "What's the age range of the employees in your business?" "Most are between 23 and 35," was the response. "There's your problem," the questionner asserted. "Millennials just don't care about money. That's the reason it failed."
Millennials don't care about money. Really? It's that simple?
With all due respect to the good intentions of the business owner who made that comment, it's a lazy response. To suggest that millennials don't care about money is to excuse an organization from the hard work of figuring out how to appeal to a critical employee constituency; one that is rapidly growing in numbers and has become the largest generation within the global workforce. It's a group whose influence is expanding, not shrinking, and dismissing them as simply not interested in money won't help anyone.
In my view, the failed profit pool was due to something bigger than poor plan design or employees just "not getting it." It was a marketing flaw. Here's what I mean.
Suppose that company thought of millennial pay as a marketing strategy instead of a compensation strategy. If that was its orientation, what framework would have guided its approach? If the context was marketing and not just rewards, here is the sequence its leadership probably would have followed (and you might also consider adopting) in constructing a pay strategy for millennials...or any other part of its workforce:
- Identify the Audience
- Identify What you Want Them to Do
- Identify What your Employees Need to Believe in order To Do
- Identify What Your Employees Need to Know in Order to Believe