How to Motivate Millennial & Gen Z Students

How to Motivate Millennial & Gen Z Students - Go Commando App

It’s become a sad, overused cliche, and we’ve all heard the sentiment: “Millennials are lazy, narcissistic, and difficult to work with and  motivate.” Generation Z, much like the Millennials, aren’t always easy to figure out. And if you aren’t doing what you can to tap into and leverage their unique contributions, you may find it difficult to retain these highly valuable employees.

However, these two generations have a lot to offer employers- it’s just a matter of getting to know who they are and how to tap into their hidden potential.

How to Motivate Millennial & Gen Z Students - Go Commando App

Who Are Millennial Workers?

The results of a recent Gallup poll that showed Millennials are the least engaged age group in the workplace, with only 28.9 percent who are considered “engaged.” There are roughly 80 million Millennials, making up about 36 percent of the work force today, so moving them from unengaged to engaged is increasingly important for your company’s success.

Here are some important generalizations about the millennial workforce that you should keep in mind:

  • Millennials are likely the most technologically advanced age group in your workforce, and the most educated. They are skilled multitaskers. (71% of them use social media while also watching video content.) Knowing this, it’s important to include tech in your student ambassador activities! For example, have them post on Facebook, share your brand’s page,  take Snapchats with your brand’s product, or have them host a branded watch party for their favorite TV show and encourage them to share the experience on social media.
  • Millennials want to learn and develop their skills. Training and the opportunity for growth is key. They want to lead and are ambitious. Empower your student ambassadors with activities that will not only promote your brand, but will help these young Millennials develop skills and characteristics to improve their post-college job search (which could be with your company!).
  • While this generation is still interested in making an income, it means more to them to do meaningful work and/or work that has a positive impact on the world around them. Keep this in mind when developing activities for your student ambassadors. Tasks like passing out snacks during finals week, community service, or helping out campus organizations will feed their desire to work beyond the paycheck.


How to Motivate Millennial & Gen Z Students - Go Commando App

Who Are Generation Z Workers?

Generation Z employees were born between 1995 and 2012. Right now, they comprise about 25% of the population. This generation has grown up with uncertainty and often has more radical differences than the other generations. Generation Z employees are highly energetic and enthusiastic, but many lack the social skills you would expect from employees—including those who entered the workforce at a young age.

Here are some things to keep in mind about the Generation Z workforce when recruiting and maintaining them:

  • Cater to the entrepreneurial drive. Dial into this entrepreneurial spirit by giving Gen Z employees a dose of autonomy. Don’t just give them tasks; let them focus on a new project that is directly tied to your business’s success. Gen Z loves to see the evolution of an idea from inception to tangible impact.
  • Regularly offer perks and rewards. Gen Z proves to be more motivated by opportunities for advancement than they are by money. They are incredibly strategic, especially after witnessing the aftermath of the Great Recession on their Gen Y peers, so they are eager for opportunities to learn and are realistic about the fact that learning opportunities don’t always pay well. Use this as inspiration for your perk strategy. Maybe your Gen Z employees who reach a certain sales goal can be on a team to pioneer a new project.
  • Go old-school with your communication style. Gen Z sees the relationship between manager and employee as similar to the relationship between teacher and student. They want to feel like their manager is highly interested in their progress and dedicated to helping them improve.


Millennials and Generation Z like attention, flexibility, and growth. Brainstorming new and innovative ways to motivate college students to get involved can be challenging. We have a variety of resources and a staff ready to help put our target research to work to ensure your activities bring in a higher ROI. To get started, check out our blog post about activity ideas for you student ambassadors.

Still stuck?

Connect with us today– we’ll help you get started!

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