How to engage your Millennial workforce

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Millennials are set to make up half of your workforce next year. With new expectations, character traits and skills, how can you best engage this unique segment of the population?

Millennials receive a bad press; they have been labelled as lazy, pampered, shallow, touchy and entitled. However, like all stereotypes, when you examine them closely they have little to do with reality.

As the first fully-digital generation Millennials possess a particular set of skills and personality traits that are very different to those of earlier generations. So how should you go about engaging with them? At Tiger we think it’s important that our clients understand exactly how to best attract, retain and engage Millennial talent, so we’ve put together five key ways this can be done.

1. Technology and creativity

Millennials are a technologically-savvy generation, demonstrated by the fact that almost all have smartphones (92% in comparison to 67% of Baby Boomers, according to 2019 research by the Pew Research Centre). In addition, 28% access the internet solely via their phones, which compares to just 18% of Generation X.

There is clearly a massive opportunity to harness this technological knowledge and ability. For example, tech-savvy employers could potentially ulilise this expertise to assess and redefine the way customer service is delivered. Put together an internal focus group to facilitate ideas on how to improve the user experience and make it an advantage for your business.

2. Teamwork and sharing

Given the right environment and forum Millennials are more than happy to share their opinions, even on their first day in a job. Rather than dampening their enthusiasm take advantage of it; Millennials are far more likely to be team players than individualists. They value the sharing of ideas and insights, particularly when they can see the benefits of those ideas shared across the team. Don’t dismiss those suggestions you’ve just heard, instead use this as a great opportunity to garner new and original ways that you could be working.

3. Flexibility

For Millennials the quality of work is more significant than the volume of hours spent in the office. For them work is a thing you do, not a place you go to. By that measure work cannot be defined by traditional hours or locations. Millennials will be less likely to commit to a 40-hour week at fixed hours, even if they know they are missing out on full-time pay. As an employer responding to their flexible working requests is essential to ensuring ongoing Millennial retention and attraction.

4. Corporate social responsibility

Millennials care about issues beyond the workplace, particularly corporate social responsibility. According to The Millennial Impact Project in the US 90% of this generation are motivated by a mission not an organisation. They are actively involved in collective issues, and are more likely to support the ‘greater good’. Given their significant engagement with social media it’s no surprise that their peer groups are their largest influence.

Millennials will therefore become enthusiastic about workplace CSR issues. Ask them for their opinions on how you can further the CSR goals of your business; engaging them in the process will encourage them to be involved. Setting up a cross-departmental sustainability committee might be a good place to start, giving them a chance to analyse the actions of the business with the view to making them more sustainable.

5. Feedback and career progression

A US-based Gallup survey has found that only 21% of Millennials have the opportunity to meet their manager face to face on a weekly basis. Fifty-six per cent said they met less than once a month. If you can’t facilitate regular one-to-one meetings a weekly phone call to check in or a team lunch in the diary can make all the difference.

Millennials are far more likely to move to another job if they don’t feel listened to, or if they’re unclear on their career direction. It’s well worth being aware of alternative career paths. Internal, sideways or diagonal promotions, reverse mentoring (where a more senior staff member learns from a new recruit), or developing new projects to harness the unique skills of your Millennial employee are all effective ways to engage this group of creative individuals.

Employees are more important than ever. Where once a company’s hard assets were the most valuable, today assets such as brand, people and intellectual property now make up 85% of the business’ value. Millennials want to be treated as individuals. If you can harness their unique strengths you’ll likely reap the rewards of a more engaged Millennial workforce, and a better-performing business from which everyone (whatever their age) will benefit.

David Morel is CEO of Tiger Recruitment, a leading business support recruitment consultancy in London

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