Viewpoint: Iain Thomson, Director Incentive and Recognition at Sodexo Benefits and Rewards Services

“Generation Y, or ‘millennials’, are those who were born between 1980 and 1999 and so are now in their teens to mid-30s. This is the generation that has grown up with the internet, come of age as the 2008 financial crisis rocked the world and, as a result, are rewriting the rules when it comes to attitudes towards spending, saving and the expectations of jobs and careers.

As a generation, millennials are shunning the idea of spending vast amounts of money on clothes, shoes and other material things – in favour of experiences. This trend has been somewhat fuelled by the huge rise in house prices, meaning home ownership for this group has become almost unattainable. So, instead of saving their hard earned money to get themselves on the property ladder, many millennials prefer to spend their money going out for meals, going on elaborate holidays and having ‘life experiences’.

Also, unlike their parents’ generation who valued job security and wanted a job for life, this generation of workers want a good work/life balance and a sense of purpose beyond financial success. And they are happy to move around until they find this.

As a group, it is estimated that millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025. Businesses therefore need to acknowledge and understand the wants and needs of this demographic and ensure all employee benefits and incentive and recognition strategies effectively engage and motivate millennials – as well as the rest of the workforce.

This doesn’t necessarily mean having separate incentive and recognition packages for millennials, but adjusting offerings where necessary to ensure they are inclusive of all staff; regardless of age, gender or background. To help achieve this, incentive and recognition strategies should include elements such as gift cards to encourage guilt-free spending, and reward platforms that offer discounts on leisure experiences, trips and holidays.

By targeting all generations with a full reward portfolio, each employee will feel personally thanked for their hard work. However, it is important to note that in order to guarantee long term success of any recognition strategy, managers must engage with their staff regularly, to make sure they understand what motivates them and can keep rewards fresh and relevant.

With Christmas only a matter of weeks away now, this is a great time of year for businesses to assess their incentive and recognition schemes and adjust them where necessary for 2017!”