No, Millennials Don’t Expect a Trophy For Every Little Thing They Do at Work

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Jun 14, 2011

Telling someone “thanks” for taking on additional responsibility is not only the right thing to do, but can also boost future efforts as well.

Surprise, surprise! Gen Y doesn’t expect a trophy, certificate or pat on the back for every little thing they do at work, according to research from Lumesse (formerly StepStone Solutions).

Of course, I’ve written repeatedly that this perception simply isn’t true, but Lumesse now confirms (quoting):

  • 38 percent of workers aged 56-60 said they believe they will always be recognized and rewarded if they work harder or take extra responsibility.
  • Only 19 percent of Gen Y workers (ages 18-25) feel the same.

Rather than rehash the same message about misconceptions and stereotypes of Gen Y employees, I’m interested in your own take. Tell me in comments (or take the quick poll at right. TLNT readers, click through to get to it here.):

  1. Do you (or your employees) take on extra responsibility in the first place?
  2. If so, why do you take it on? For the challenge? “It needs to get done?” An expectation of recognition and reward?
  3. If not, why not? Because you know no one will notice or appreciate it? You just don’t have time? Honestly, you’re too disengaged to care?
  4. If you (or others in your organization) take on extra work or go the extra mile, how does leadership respond? An ever increasing workload since you’ve proven you can handle it? Promotion or career advancement? Recognition and praise for your efforts?

I argue that even the most committed, engaged and gung-ho employee will volunteer for extra work only so many times without receiving some kind of recognition and appreciation of those efforts. Research I’ve written about on Compensation Café shows people who are thanked for their help on a task are 100 percent more likely to help again in the future than if no appreciation is given.

The choice is obvious to me. Give employees the appreciation and recognition they deserve when they go above and beyond.

This originally appeared on Derek Irvine’s Recognize This! blog.