As a manager how do you engage the millennials?

Our last headhunter series alluded to how the millennial generation changes expectations for managers of today. As a manager how can you engage the millennials in the workforce? This is a topic of interest for both candidates on the one hand and headhunters who are identifying the new skill sets needed.

how do you engage the millennials

The millennial generation, commonly known as Gen Y, includes those who are born roughly between the years 1981-1994. Having grown up in an era of rapid changes and instant gratification, millennials are drastically different in their outlook to work and job expectations.

They are well educated, skilled in technology, highly self-confident, able to multi-task, and come in with plenty of energy. They have high expectations for themselves, and prefer to work in teams. Millennials seek challenges, yet work-life balance is of utmost importance to them.

“This is a generation in search of meaning, and by that we mean from day one they want to walk into the workplace and know they are making a difference in the world,” says David Stillman, co-author of ‘The M-Factor: How the Millennial Generation Is Rocking the Workplace.’

More than 85% of hiring managers and human resource executives believe this group has a stronger sense of entitlement than older workers, reports a CareerBuilder.com survey. According to the survey, their other great expectations include:

  • High pay (74% of respondents)
  • Flexible work schedules (61%)
  • A promotion within a year (56%)
  • More vacation or personal time (50%)

Like it or not, the millennial generation is here to stay. Statistics reveal that they are all set to take the world by storm.

The millennial workforce is expected to comprise 50% of the workforce by 2020 and grow to about 75% of the workforce by 2025.

We probed a little further and found some distinguishing features that characterize this ‘young and restless’ generation:

How is the millennial generation different?

  1. Their desire to be creative: Millennials want to work on new and tough problems, and ones that require creative solutions. According to a Deloitte study, Gen Yers’ motivation to participate comes from factors that have little do with salary (important only for 28.5%). What does promote a participation culture among millennial workers is awareness, development strategies, and collaboration.
  2. The millennial employee is interested in feedback on his or her performance. They want to know that they’ve done a good job, and they want to know now.
  3. They seek leadership, and even structure, from their older and managerial coworkers, but expect their ideas to be respected. They seek a challenge and do not want to experience boredom.
  4. Millennials need to see where their career is going and they want to know exactly what they need to do to get there.
  5. They are the most connected generation in history and will network right out of their current workplace if these needs are not met. Computer experts, millennials are connected all over the world by email, instant messages, text messages, and the Internet.

As baby boomers retire, and millennials grow significantly as a proportion of the workforce over the next 20 years, managers and human resources professionals will need to develop new engagement models to take into account the generational differences between baby boomers and millennials.

As a manager how do you engage the millennials?

  1. Provide structure: Goals need to be clearly stated, and progress should be regularly assessed. Assignments and success factors need to be clearly defined.
  2. Provide leadership and guidance: Plan to spend a lot of time teaching and coaching, and be aware of this commitment to millennials when hiring them.
  3. Give them checklists, offer plenty of help, reward them for innovating and taking appropriate risks, engage them with frequent feedback, provide them with mentors, create a team-oriented culture, etc.
  4. Also, feedback should be clear and specific to be effective, structured in a way that leaves no room for misunderstanding.
  5. Encourage their positive, “can do” attitude – don’t squash it.
  6. Have multiple strategies: Employers should design strategies for each of their major employee groups – baby boomers, generation Xers, and millennials. By doing this, employees across generations should become more engaged, and will hopefully notice the commitment their employers have made in improving their employee experience.
  7. Assign engagement champions: The champion should be responsible for collecting and sharing information from across the organization relating to engagement.
  8. Set appropriate targets: Goal-setting exercises must be properly designed in order to develop reasonable targets. Implications for employees must be considered when deciding which approach to use.
  9. Ensure transparent processes: Ensuring transparency is a critical element of success for new program development.
  10. Identify key engagement drivers and threats: Employers should benchmark themselves against these drivers, which will act as the key metrics for monitoring.

Hopefully, all the senior managers having to deal with millennials can use some of these tips and create a more engaging work environment!



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