What Employers Need to Know to Build an Engaged Workforce
We currently have four (or maybe five) generations in the workforce, and according to some sources, millennials already surpass the baby boomers in numbers. Whereas Millennials, those Generation-Y whiz kids born roughly between 1980 and the early 2000s, have some strong similarities to the Baby Boomers and Generation-X employees on company payrolls, there are significant differences and we must treat them differently if we are to ensure they remain engaged and become valued employees – remember, it costs a lot more to hire a new person than it does to retain an engaged one. We discuss how higher ed institutions can avoid employee and faculty burnout in a later podcast.
We’ll discuss some of the characteristics. Millennials seek richly varied career experiences while also wanting security. They embrace challenges that stretch their limits yet also want to be loyal to their employers. They are purpose-driven, and want to feel proud of the companies for which they work – some liken it to having a “higher calling.”
These young adults are also unique in big ways, and their distinct perspectives and expectations permeate their work lives. This means that employers who hope to retain them and create environments where they flourish and put their considerable talents to use would do well to be responsive to their concerns. The available research points to eight key suggestions:
Make a Commitment to Understanding Your Millennial Workforce
By doing so, you will have a good handle on intergenerational tensions and differences that crop up. By segmenting your employees using metrics and benchmarking, you will better understand how millennials have desires and motivations different from your older workers. This knowledge is key to a successful talent strategy and strategic workforce plan.
Make the Right Kind of Deal With Your Millennials
It is always important for employers to communicate clearly about what they are offering prospective employees and what they want from them in return. Knowing what motivates millennials will lead you to develop meaningful reward strategies that speak directly to their aspirations. They may value a company committed to supporting a healthy work-life balance more than cash bonuses. You might find them more interested in customizing benefits than maximizing salary. For companies to attract and keep millennials, they should continually evaluate whether the deals they make result in a satisfying employee experience.
Support Their Professional and Personal Desire for Growth
For Millennials, growth can mean seeking multidirectional interests rather than a straight-line career path. Managers who understand and move with this tendency have a better chance of validating their millennial employees. Give them frequent special rotating assignments to satisfy their desire for a multiplicity of experiences.
Design challenges that exercise their creativity, such as seeking innovative solutions to streamlining processes. Offer them opportunities to work overseas, and be conscious of their value within companies concentrating on global growth. They may be more willing to work in less-than-ideal overseas locations if you position the move as a significant milestone within a rich and diverse career. Providing them opportunities to work in generationally mixed teams is another means of supporting the personal and professional growth of the kind Millennials seek.
Be Generous With Feedback
Don’t assume that the traditional annual review suffices. Millennials prefer frequent or ongoing feedback as a central component within a collaborative, process-oriented approach to their creative work lives. Real-time, honest feedback where you showcase positive improvements and contributions in their key areas of competency is key to successfully managing Millennials.
Give Them Freedom
Flexibility is important to Millennials. If you give them clear instructions and tangible goals and targets, they will work hard, but they will thrive by doing so on their terms. Does it really matter where and how they complete their tasks? Give them clear deadlines but also flexible work schedules. Whether they work in a coffee shop, at home or in the office is not the point, nor are their official clock-in and clock-out times.
Give Employees the Chance to Learn for an Engagement Workforce
Companies that focus on developing senior people to the exclusion of younger employees risk losing that future pool of talent. There are plenty of employers who incorporate millennial aspirations within their strategic workforce plans by engaging their drive to learn and develop. Provide millennial employees with ample education and training opportunities as well as effective mentoring programs.
Put Them on the Fast Track
To build an engaged workforce of Millennials don’t think in terms of years of service and seniority when it comes to career advancement. They value results over longevity and can get easily frustrated if the creative drive and stellar results are not enough to jumpstart career advancement. They are high achievers who want to rise through the ranks more quickly than previous generations. Add more promotion levels and other forms of career recognition to meet their expectations and capture what motivates them.
Assume They Will Move On
Given their aspirations and priorities, expect that you will churn through Millennials at a higher rate than for previous generations of employees. Millennials make frequent career changes as part of their process of continually fine-tuning work-life balance and seeking a career in alignment with their aspirations and personal priorities. Build a higher turnover into your strategic people planning to ensure that your approach aligns with 21st-century workplace realities.