We recently posted Building Incentives for Millennials by Top Banana’s Elliott Grant, a 15 year veteran of the incentive industry. He reveals what millennials want when it comes to motivation and the co-chairs of The SITE Young Leaders Conference, Heidi Goettemoeller, senior event manager, One10 marketing and Caoimhe Rice of the Maloney & Kelly, a DMC in Ireland, respond to Grant’s Theories.

Grant says, “As a generation that came of age after the 2008 financial crisis and the first generation to have grown up totally immersed in a world of digital technology, they are the most educated generation in Western history and are empowered, purpose driven, hyper-connected, and open-minded. Unlike the generation before them, millennials are the first generation to be heavily motivated by non-monetary rewards.”

Is this true?

Heide Goettemoeller: Many studies have proved that millennials, more than their generational predecessors, value non-monetary awards as much as (if not more than) standard monetary-based reward strategy. This age group is far more responsive to flexible work arrangements and experiences that cannot be purchased. Because they (we) are motivated by situations and access to unique experiences, this must also change how providers see value opportunity with this demographic.

Caoimhe Rice: It’s been shown time and time again that millennials are motivated by the “experiential” and so employers are required to think outside the box in terms of how they reward their staff. Incentive travel would therefore be the ideal reward for millennial staff (given our strong desire to travel and motivation for non-monetary rewards)– we just need to look at the incentive travel industry and mold it to create meaningful experiences that will resonate with millennials.

Grant: “Due to millennials entering the workforce with large amounts of student debt, life milestones such as weddings and home ownership are being delayed and because of their financial instability they’re driven more by access than ownership.“

HG: Particularly in the U.S., student debt is a driving force in millennial views on fiscal responsibility and associated life developments. While many millennials would love to own a house and travel extensively, their financial situations cause and enable them to be more creative and, therefore, they desire more creative rewards as well. Ownership is still a goal, but it’s more of a long-term goal than an immediate one and I believe this drives them (us) towards more creative sources for fulfillment.

CR: A couple of years ago a millionaire from Australia advised millennials to stop buying avocado toast every weekend in order to save and buy a house – while this patronizing statement caused many eye rolls from millennials the world over, what it failed to address was the crux of the matter – that millennials cannot necessarily afford the traditional wedding and house in the same time frame as their parents (should they want to go down that route). However; they are used to a certain lifestyle, such as the aforementioned avocado and toast, and place more of an importance on enjoying their lives now therefore they are more likely to want to invest in experiences than bricks and mortar.

Grant: “According to a Harris study …this generation not only highly values experiences, but they are increasingly spending time and money on them {…} happiness isn’t as focused on possessions or climbing the career ladder.”

HG: I agree that this generation values experiences over possessions, but this is also the age group that will be more likely to keep their eyes open for new opportunities rather than just work their way up the ladder in one company over a span of 30+ years. Therefore, they (we) are absolutely focused on building our careers, they (we) place greater value in happiness at every step rather than placing value in long-term loyalty if it is not earned. Similar to valuing experiences over possessions, this generation is looking for what will inspire rather than a trophy to carry around.

CR: I would agree that millennials can distinguish the importance of possessions versus experiences. I also agree with Heidi’s statement that we are more likely to look for a job that will inspire and fulfill rather than trying to climb the corporate ladder. This generation looks for an employer that doesn’t patronize them; offers flexibility; that listens to them and a job that will also provide a way in which they can feel like they are making a difference. I believe that millennials are hard workers but want to create a healthy divide for their personal and professional life – they are able to place importance on their experiences outside of the workplace and see how that can enhance their experience within the workplace as a lifestyle balance.