5 Tips for Motivating Young Employees During the Pandemic 

motivating young employees

The after-effects of the pandemic is significantly affecting motivation levels of employees across the globe, especially the young people. 

According to research, 44% of employees under 35 years of age say that a lack of motivation has been hindering their performance at work since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak in March 2020. 

How Can you Help your Employees Get Their Motivation Back? 

According to Lora Park, associate professor and director of Self and Motivation Lab, motivation drops if you feel a deficit in three key areas: your autonomy, competence and relationships

The pandemic has impacted all three areas. On the bright side, we are here to tell you not all is not lost.

Here are 5 ways in which you can boost and motivate your employees:

1. Gamify Tasks

Want to motivate employees to hit a specific milestone? Make it into a game.

Introduce gameplay to your team for the organisation’s most important tasks. This will help foster healthy competition and would make tasks more fun! 

Instead of setting tasks, introduce a reward or a prize that will be awarded if the task is completed. Everyone loves games and it will positively affect the team’s mood as well. Companies like Google, Ford and Marriott have used gamification to motivate their employees.

motivating young employees

Omnicare, an organisation that produces pharmacy management software, set up a series of achievements and challenges that its reps could reach. The reps were given a challenge at the beginning of every shift. For example, a help desk support analyst might receive a note with a challenge “Today find three customers who have a specific problem with billing and help them.” As the employees progressed through these series of challenges, they were given short-term rewards that were achievement and recognition oriented. 

Gamification helps motivate people not just because it offers them a reward, but because it gives them recognition through status, power, money or more. 

2. Create Short & Easy Tasks 

Break business goals into smaller achievable tasks.

Charles Duhigg, a Pulitzer Prize winning journalist in his book Smarter Faster Better states that putting easy-to-achieve items at the top means you’re using that list for “mood repair”. In the pandemic, this mood repair strategy may bear fruit but it is also important to not focus too much on the thrill associated with task completion. Instead of focusing on simple tasks, management should ensure that employees have SMART goals. 

motivating young employees

What are SMART goals? SMART stands for “specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, timeline.” Concrete goals that help your organisation achieve their overarching business objectives over a period of time.

Focus on short term goals that are SMART and easier to complete in the short term, instead of focusing on (uncertain) future goals. 

3. Recognise & Reward Employees

If an employee is doing a good job, it is important to acknowledge their efforts in public and in private. 

Research shows that immediate rewards can increase intrinsic motivation compared to delayed rewards. Instead of waiting for a specific time in the future to recognise and reward employees, reward them by acknowledging and recognising their hard work promptly. 

motivating young employees

Be careful not to reward self-destructive behaviour during the pandemic. Focus on rewarding people who work well independently as well as individuals who have a collaborative mindset. Take time to acknowledge all the wins (big or small), these are unprecedented times, so celebrate all the wins to maintain a positive environment. 

Try: Fixing a time on a weekly or monthly basis to discuss and celebrate wins! 

4. Advance your Culture (Virtually)

Due to the pandemic, people are now speaking to fewer colleagues than prior to the COVID-19 crisis. On an average day before the pandemic, over half of employees (56%) had face-to-face or virtual conversations of at least five minutes with three or more colleagues. Since the pandemic that number has dropped to 37%.

Going virtual shouldn’t impact your company culture. It is crucial to extend your culture and team building activities to the virtual world otherwise employee motivation will be impacted.

motivating young employees

All conversations and interactions shouldn’t revolve around work.Employees should feel connected and appreciated. Keep time for and encourage informal conversations in your remote and hybrid teams. If you’ve gone offline, encourage collaboration and make time for team building activities. “No man is an island” and encouraging conversation can help improve employees’ mood and motivate them to carry out their tasks.

5. Choose Autonomy Over Control

“It’s human nature to crave autonomy. Parents of toddlers will readily attest to this fact—their little ones want to do EVERYTHING by themselves and will defy their parents’ requests. No one, no matter his or her age, likes to be told what to do.”

~ Nicole Fallowfield, Director of Health Risk Management at Gibson

In times of crisis, management may take matters into their own hands and try to control everything. This inadvertently stifles their employees.It’s important to trust and give employees the autonomy and flexibility to do their work. 

Don’t micromanage, give them control over their day to day tasks. Let your employees tell you what works for them and push them to achieve the goals you set, together.

It’s about balancing their needs with the needs of the company. If employees constantly feel that their inputs are not valid, that their boss doesn’t trust them and that they have no control over their tasks, they will feel demotivated. 

Let people own their work and ask for help, rather than hold their hand the entire way. 


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