Master Thesis – what motivates early millennials in the workplace?

Posted by in eMBA, Leadership, Master thesis, Organizational Behaviour

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The purpose of this thesis is to research the motivation of early millennials in the work place. Previous studies show the need to further research how this cohort is motivated in a business context, as supposed to being business students. At the same time, there are self-proclaimed experts that has released books where a picture of how millennials are motivated are generalized and not referenced, neither to the existing literature nor to a research design and methodology.

The researcher has aimed to find out the motivation of early millennials by using a deductive base from the typologies established by C.Turnbull (2011), building on with evaluating differences and gaps towards how millennials are motivated in comparison with generation X, critically evaluating the importance of the line manager and to establish a list of critical activities for how to best motivate millennials to reach their full potential.

In order to research the aim of this thesis the researcher has been critically reviewing the literature, surveyed early millennial participants from 22 countries with a questionnaire, semi-structured in-depth interviewed 14 participants from 9 countries. This has formed a triangulation making it possible to make sense of the data based on three independent sources.

The research journey ended with the general conclusion that the literature has little to offer and is to an extent generalizing on millennials. Turnbull’s (2011) typologies about how different people types are motivated in different ways holds, with the conclusion that the 3 types are too general, even though this is the model that is the most up to date. Further, the line manager is the most important person in the career of millennials and the single most important finding about motivation for millennials is to receive timely feedback.

This master thesis adds a strategic value to managers and companies who doesn’t only want a competitive advantage, but wants to manage their employees in a way that goes in line with how they are motivated, thus making them stay, lowering attrition rates and sets the scene for a culture to embrace innovation.

This is contemporary, as 75% of the work force in the world will be millennials by 2025 (Schawbel, 2012).