Talk to Your Millennial Workers About Compensation (the Right Way!)

There are more millennial workers now than ever before.

I know what you’re thinking…

Groan. Not another article about millennials.

But here’s a reality check: Millennials are some of the most sought-after workers out there. After all, they’re the most educated generation — not to mention the most hardworking one, too.

And to stay competitive in your market, you’ve got to figure out how to appeal to them.

Sure, a competitive salary is important. But it won’t matter if you can’t effectively communicate where that salary came from — or what your compensation policy is — to your millennial workers.

Don’t worry — I’m here to help. Let me lay down some tips on how to talk to millennials about compensation.


One generation — three different personas

There’s a lot of confusion about who is a millennial and who isn’t — so I’ll clear the air. A millennial is defined by the Pew Research Center as anyone born between 1981 and 1996.

But get this: Not all millennials are the same.

After all, the youngest of them are just entering their mid-20s… while the oldest are pushing 40.

So, millennial workers can be broken down into three groups: Launchers, Accelerators, and Catalysts, according to Ken Gibson’s eBook, How to Pay Millennials.

Each group has unique concerns when it comes to comp.

Launchers are recent college graduates without much — or any — work experience. Their priority? Immediate cash flow.

Accelerators have more work experience and they’re more likely to settle in with an organization long-term. They care most about being compensated relative to their worth in the marketplace.

And finally, Catalysts. They have the most work experience and can heavily (and positively!) impact an organization. They know their value, and they have room to negotiate compensation-wise.

Catalysts’ biggest concern is taking advantage of all aspects of their compensation package, including 401k options and stock ownership opportunities.

What does each persona care about?

No matter the topic, the first step toward good communication is to consider your audience.

So, what kind of millennial worker are you talking to? And what should your comp conversation include?

If it’s Launchers:

  • Focus on the money.
  • Don’t go in-depth about benefits offerings, this isn’t their primary concern.
  • Make sure to clearly explain your organization’s growth options — these opportunities are just as important to your youngest workers as their pay.

If it’s Accelerators:

  • Focus on the money.
  • Clearly lay out possible bonuses and annual incentives. Outline how they can lead to advancement within your organization.
  • Clearly explain the value of your benefits plans. Accelerators are starting to get married and have children, so they’ll place more emphasis on this.

If it’s Catalysts:

  • Don’t focus on the money — Catalysts have been around the block and they want more than just a competitive salary.
  • Talk in-depth about benefits offerings and how they can use them to their advantage.
  • Highlight profit-sharing opportunities within your company. If you don’t have any, ask Catalysts how they feel about that.

Communication practices that work

Now, you’re probably thinking: Wow, millennials are more complex than I initially thought. How can I actually get through to them?

Here are a few strategies that’ll help you successfully communicate with millennials about anything.

1. Personalize and humanize your message

Millennials want tangible examples of how what you’re saying will impact them. It’s easier for them to understand your message if it resonates with them.

2. Avoid one-way communication

Millennials don’t want to be talked at — they want to be talked to. So leave every conversation open and encourage feedback.

You should also be quick and to-the-point. (I think this one is self-explanatory.)

3. Use tech to your advantage

Experiment with it and figure out how it can help you get your message across in an efficient and engaging way.

Want to learn more about communicating comp to your entire organization — not just your millennial workers? Check out this short article and this free how-to guide for some tried-and-true tips.