Industry Experts Explore How to Motivate the Modern Workforce

“You have to treat people as individuals. Engagement is a one-on-one exercise; you have to get to know each person and find out what motivates him or her.” This was just one of many valuable pieces of wisdom imparted from motivational expert Chester Elton, who served as the keynote speaker at the 44th Annual Regents Business Symposium.

The Symposium is one of New Jersey’s longest-running forums designed to inspire and educate professionals of all industries regarding business trends, challenges and best practices. The theme of this year’s Symposium, Beyond the Gold Watch: Motivating the Modern Workforce, garnered the attendance of more than 200 industry leaders, faculty and students who received an exclusive opportunity to learn ways to invigorate, engage and inspire their employees and colleagues — in particular millennials, who make up a significant portion of today’s workforce.

In addition to hearing from Elton, author of The New York Times bestsellers The Carrot Principle and All In, the audience also received insight from a panel of experts, including: Jennifer Schramm, manager of workplace trends and forecasting at Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM); Dan Schawbel, millennial expert and managing partner of Millennial Branding; Elizabeth Walker, vice president of global talent management for Campbell Soup Company; and moderator Rebecca Jarvis, chief business and economics correspondent and host and managing editor of Real Biz with Rebecca Jarvis at ABC News.

The panelists touched upon various timely topics such as tools to attract and retain quality employees, how to address the challenge of engaging an increasingly diverse workforce and discussing what they found to matter most to employees when working for a company or organization — which all panelists agreed included career development, a sense of meaning and value and room for growth and advancement.

“Intangible factors have become much more important,” explained Schramm. “If organizations create a culture of respect, I think it would go a long way across all generations, but particularly to millennials.”

The panelists also touched upon the impact of technology in the workplace, tactics to get millennials prepared to take on bigger roles within a company, their thoughts on Generation Z, strategies to foster innovative thinking and ideas of how universities can better prepare millennials for their careers. Schawbel pointed out that two important things are often not taught in higher education: how to get a job and how to manage money.

“Companies need to get more involved in schools to start training students for the workplace,” he explained. “People have to develop earlier in life to compete later in life.”

Following the panel discussion, Elton provided a dynamic presentation designed to help the audience not only understand the importance of motivating employees, but tips and advice on how to create an engaged work culture to foster productivity and overall satisfaction.

“If you don’t get the culture right, the rest doesn’t matter,” said Elton. “Great cultures attract great people — and they keep them.”

Through video clips, relatable examples and personal stories, Elton discussed the importance of making employees feel valued, the power of belief and the three main drives involved in engaging people at work: development, trust and pride.

Some ways to create great cultures at work, Elton explained, are to keep a 5 to 1 ratio of positive to negative comments, immediately and often recognize employee accomplishments and provide specific examples of praise.

“If you can get people engaged, that is valuable and it gets you noticed. Hopefully, you are one of those people,” he added. “So are you going to take what you learned here back to your companies — are you all in?”

Each year, a portion of the proceeds from the annual Symposium benefit The Patricia Q. Sheehan H ’77 Scholarship. To view photos, click here.

Saint Peter’s University gratefully acknowledges the support of the event sponsors:


Capital One Bank


Genova Burns, Fidelity Investments, Bank of America Merrill Lynch — The Spanarkel Browne Granizo Group


Bayonne Community Bank, CarePoint Health Foundation, Collins Building Services, Connell Foley LLP, Kenneth Moore ’91, Liberty Savings Federal Credit Union, Madison Consulting Group, Orechio Foundation, PSE&G, Sherwin-Williams, SILVERMAN, Sodexo, Staples


ARAMARK, Brinker Capital, Cambridge Capital Corp., Francis A. McGrail ’79, Kathleen A. Tyrrell, Esq. ’73 and James E. Tyrrell, Jr. Esq., Johnson & Johnson, Jordan & Jordan, ndVOR Solutions LLC, NJM Insurance Group, Peacock Printing and Graphics, The Provident Bank


Patrick F. Annello, M.D. ’99, William R. Armbruster ’71, Noreen D. Beaman, CPA ’86, Catherine M. Carnevale ’83, Doreen Catanio, CPA ’85, Andres Cifuentes ’04, Christopher J. DePizzo, Esq. ’09, James Donofrio, Warren C. Fristensky ’74, Carmel Galasso ’79, Bernard M. Hartnett, Jr., Esq. ’51, James T. Leman ’68, Kenneth J. Mathews ’60, Michael R. Milano ’74, ’91, Philip A. Mongelluzzo, Jr., M.D. ’94, James G. Rizzo ’81, Rabia Sattaur ’06, Maryellen Scott Moran ’88, Paul Schaetzle ’75, Joan K. Schultz, CPA ’71, Patricia Q. Sheehan H ’77, Toni Ann Turco ’86, Thomas L. Wickiewicz, M.D. ’72