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Employers Falling Short in Recognizing Millennial Workers


LINCOLNSHIRE, Ill. and SALT LAKE CITY (May 3, 2016) — A new study from Aon Hewitt and O.C. Tanner reveals many employers are missing the mark when it comes to recognizing and rewarding millennial employees.

Aon Hewitt and O.C. Tanner studied more than 470 employers across five countries to examine the strategy, vehicles and effectiveness of their recognition programs. According to the findings, one in four organizations find their current recognition programs are ineffective for millennial workers — the youngest generation in the workforce. A separate Aon Hewitt report shows millennial workers agree that their employer’s recognition programs are unsatisfying. Nearly two in five millennials (38 percent) would like to see the recognition program at their current employer improved.[1]

“With millennials becoming the largest generation in today’s workforce, employers need to ensure their recognition programs meet their needs,” said Gary Beckstrand, vice president at O.C. Tanner. “Millennials want recognition like any other employee, but appreciate recognition that carries meaning and helps them feel empowered. This perhaps explains why things like thank yous from peers and managers (53 percent) and public recognition from senior leadership (42 percent) were the top used vehicles across organizations at the broad level.”

When analyzing what organizations with strong recognition programs were doing differently than those organizations that reported less effective programs for millennials, AH and O.C. Tanner found that organizations with effective programs for millennials include three key rewards vehicles:

  1. Handwritten notes
  2. Experiential rewards (e.g., event tickets)
  3. Thank you from peers, managers, or next-level manager or senior executives

“Millennials have a greater need to be recognized and want to be in front of management much sooner than previous generations,” explained Neil Shastri, leader of Global Insights & Innovation at Aon Hewitt. “Being recognized and thanked by leaders in a meaningful way and on a frequent basis not only gives millennial workers a rewarding experience, but also strengthens their personal connection to the organization and encourages them to continue to be key contributors.”   


About Aon
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About O.C. Tanner

O.C. Tanner, number 61 on the 2015 FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For® list, helps organizations create great work environments by inspiring and appreciating great work. Thousands of clients globally use the company’s cloud-based technology, tools, awards and education services to engage talent, increase performance, drive goals and create experiences that fuel the human spirit. For more information visit

Media Contact:

For Aon Hewitt: MacKenzie Lucas, 847.442.2995,

For O.C. Tanner: Lindsey Sine, 801.493.3055,

[1] Workforce Mindset Study, Aon Hewitt 2015.

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