Millennials already make up 25% of the American workforce and that number grows daily as college graduates are finding their way into the workplace. The millennial generation, otherwise known as Generation Y can further be defined by Wikipedia ( as: “There are no precise dates for when Generation Y starts and ends. Commentators use beginning birth dates from the latter 1970s, or from the early 1980s to the early 2000s. They are the demographic following Generation X.” Also characterized as the net generation, the Millennials are demanding more challenging types of training that they are able to relate to and many companies are embracing the process of gamification to entice this generation into their workforce.

Because of the internet and games, Millennials have different attitudes and behaviors from previous generations. Generation Y’ers typically have greater expectations of the workplace and are found to switch jobs more often than those of Generation X due to the fact that they do not find the job challenging and rewarding enough. The Millennials work ethic is motivated in a different way than that of previous generations; they seek instant gratification and are looking to be employed by a company that has embraced new technologies and allows them to utilize their multi-tasking skills. This so called ‘net generation’ has grown up with video games, they are highly proficient with technology and see games as a tool (not a just a game).

“How do we leverage “nine-to-fivers” who come home and apply all of the smarts and talents that are underutilized at work to plan and coordinate complex raids and quests in massively multiplayer online games?”– Jane McGonigal, Reality is Broken

Millennials view life through a game lens; they have been playing video games almost since birth so the mechanics of game-play comes naturally to them. The MTV Network utilized gamification as part of the 2012 presidential election coverage. Fantasy Election 2012 ( allowed players to build a fantasy ‘dream team’ of candidates and to compete against others in a virtual league, social media was utilized as a measure of engagement. There are many similar applications of gamification that have transferred over into the work place as well. When looking for employment, the millennial generation is seeking a forward-thinking corporate culture.

Gamification has the potential to fundamentally change leadership and the workplace. The crucial twenty-first century skills that the millennial generation possesses are essential to the success of the workplace environment, employers are seeking to attract and retain these types of employees. By integrating gamification into the workplace, employees are encouraged to engage in desired behaviors. They get the instant gratification that they are seeking through their efforts and receive immediate feedback. The employer sees increased socialization and personal satisfaction from the employee all as a result of the gamification program. Companies should take measures to tap into the Millennials innovation, by weaving gamification into the corporate culture the organization will recognize enhanced communication and collaboration all employees.

Millennials in the Workplace Research Highlights (

The list of highlights is very long, so let me just include some of the key main points below:

  • 89% of Millennials want their workplace to be social and fun (compared to only 60% of Boomers)
  • 85% of Millennials think their mastery of technology makes them faster than their older coworkers
  • 76% of Millennials think their boss could learn a lot from them (compared to only 50% of Boomers)
  • Two-thirds of Millennials think they should be mentoring older co-workers on technology
  • 8 out of 10 Millennials want regular feedback from their boss
  • 8 out of 10 Millennials think they deserve to be recognized more for their work
  • Over half of Millennials want feedback at least once a week or more.
  • Only 6% of Millennials prefer annual reviews from their bosses.
  • 89% of Millennials think it is important to be constantly learning at their job
  • 90% of Millennials think they deserve their dream job
  • Nearly 6 in 10 Millennials feel that they will switch jobs in less than 5 years
  • Half of Millennials would rather have no job than have a job they hate
  • Nearly 60% of Millennials think the perfect job might exist
  • In the workplace “game,” more than three-fourths of Millennials think they are smarter players than most
  • Three-fourths of Millennials think that if the workplace were like a game, they’d know how to “level up” faster than others
  • Three-fourths of Millennials think they will find a way to advance in their corporation faster than others, compared to only half of Boomers
  • A higher salary is the preferred reward among two-thirds of Millennials, but a full one-third prefer recognition from their boss or coworkers or a promotion over higher pay
  • Only one quarter of Millennials say they are completely satisfied in their current job — half the level for Boomers.

So I said the list was long and I would only include a few… note that I did cut out a bunch. I tried only to keep the key points in that apply, but let’s review some of the ones that really stand out.

  • Two-thirds of Millennials think they should be mentoring older co-workers on technology- This demonstrates the millennial generation’s comfort with technology and their aptitude with computer-based programs
  • 8 out of 10 Millennials want regular feedback from their boss- However the majority of companies only offer annual reviews (some may have quarterly reviews as well) but nevertheless that does not satisfy the millennial employee’s need for instant gratification and positive feedback.
  • Three-fourths of Millennials think that if the workplace were like a game, they’d know how to “level up” faster than others- Note the mention of ‘game’. This is the generation that grew up with a video controller in their hand!

Gamification technology satisfies the need that Millennials (as well as other age demographics) have for instant gratification and feedback as a result of their response/work. Of course businesses will always struggle with ‘playing games at work’. It’s not just having fun without a purpose. But in reality playing games at work can lead to many increases, including but not limited to: employee retention, satisfaction with their job, increased performance, eagerness to learn and many more benefits not mentioned above.

“Millennials, like no generation before them, are demanding work/life balance, flexibility for themselves and social responsibility from their employers.”– Nicole Lipkin, Y in the Workplace: Managing the ‘Me First’ Generation

While more and more organizations are becoming open to the idea of gamification, for some late adopters it may be too late to save some millennial employees that have gotten fed up with current training initiatives and left because of it. Many organizations are considering implementing gamification, primarily because of the relatively low cost involved to implement and the expected outcome of positive results. The millennial generation of employees will thank those organizations that adopt the use of gamification in the workplace. Companies must embrace the blending of games with work, a gamification solution just might be the right fit for your organization (and your millennial workforce).

Copyright Bryant Nielson. All Rights Reserved.


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Bryant Nielson is heavily involved in the Corporate Training and Leadership and Talent space. He currently is the Managing Director for CapitalWave Inc and the training division, Financial Training Solutions. He brings a diverse corporate experience of organizational development, learning and talent development, and corporate training, that also includes personal coaching of top sales individuals and companies of all sizes. For the prior 4 years, Bryant was the Managing Director and Leadership and Talent Manager for Lengthen Your Stride! LLC. In this position, Nielson was the developer of all of the courses for MortgageMae University (MMU), the Realtor Development Center (RDC), and of Lengthen Your Stride! (LYS). In that position, he developed material, refined over many years of use and active training, and condensed the coursework and training to be high impact, natural learning, and comprehensive. Bryant has over 27 years of Senior Management experience encompasses running his own Training and mortgage firm, in New York City. He strongly believes that the corporate training is not to be static but should 'engage and inspire' students to greater productivity and performance.