Improving Millennial Engagement in the Workplace

By Stacey Watson Posted 3/01/2020 in BUSINESS

a millennial man working at a coffee shop on his cell phone with laptop

Which is why it makes sense that both corporations and small businesses want, and need, to employ millennials. Surprisingly though, Human Resource professionals and managers have found it difficult to find millennials ready to grow with their companies. A recent study shows only 29% of millennials feel engaged in their job and 60% of employed millennials report they are open to new job opportunities.

What causes the disconnect? 

two millennials, one encouraging another with a thumbs up

There are several factors.  Society ages and evolves. As it does, societal thinking evolves.  While change does occur over all age groups, studies clearly indicate dramatic differences concentrated in ‘pockets’ of age groups.  Members of these groups tend to carry these differences with them as they age, and each generation sees an alteration in those that follow.  Businesses looking to be relevant in the future must adapt to changes in societal thinking. Let’s start by discussing a few causes of millennial disconnect.

Climbing the Corporate Ladder Means Little to Millennials 

Generations of workers have striven to climb the corporate ladder.  Workers historically have yearned for the next promotion. Many businesses use the potential of promotion as the key motivational carrot to encourage exceptional employee performance.

Millennials generally do not find the traditional structure of the corporate world appealing. Climbing up the corporate ladder isn’t an end-goal. Use of promotion as a carrot for millennials frequently fails to encourage the desired results. This is one of the reasons why it is becoming increasingly difficult for businesses to find long-term millennial employees. The ‘long-haul’ might be a necessity of advancement, but millennials don’t perceive inherent value in either concept. Millennials are more interested in putting their knowledge and innovation to use in something new. Millennials would rather start their own businesses. The numbers speak for themselves. Nearly a third of millennials have already started their own business as compared to 19% of baby boomers.

Millennials Strive for Balance Between Work and Home Life 

full coffee cup with word art work life balance

The balance of time between work and home life has ebbed and flowed. For many years devotion to work lead employees to spend the majority of their waking hours focused on work. The trend with millennials is to look for a balance. A desired career allows for that balance. Millennials feel that technological advancements should allow for such a shift back to a ‘balanced life.’ In application, this means that millennials prioritize jobs that offer flexibility in work schedule.


Camhandy Product Ads

No Benefits, No Millennial 

3 millennials at a cafe table working with laptop and tablet

As the cost of living continues to rise, it is becoming increasingly difficult for millennials to support themselves comfortably while maintaining their desired work to home life balance. It is common for young adults to stay at home much longer as compared to previous generations. Roughly 15% of 25 to 35-year-olds were living at home as of 2016. Millennials appear to desire jobs that provide benefits over income that could pay for such benefits. They have no problem looking for better benefits or staying unemployed if they are unsatisfied with an employer’s benefit package.

Lack of Collaboration Equates to a Dull Experience

woman with negative expression working along on laptop

Millennials perceive themselves as innovators, which means they desire an environment that is going to stimulate them constantly. Working with others helps create that stimulation, and collaboration has become extremely important in the workplace for millennials. It gives millennials a sense of purpose. Ultimately, positions that are routine and offer no opportunity for interaction won’t cut it for the average millennial.

How do you Keep Millennials Engaged in the Workplace?

At this point, there are certain things that millennials already expect from a job, such as benefits and salary. This means that businesses must work harder to give millennials a job experience that will turn them into dedicated employees. Here are 3 ways businesses are successfully attracting and keeping millennial employees engaged:

1. Company Culture

View company culture as the personality of the company. Strive to define the environment in which employees work. There are a few key things that determine a company’s culture such as goals, values, mission, and expectations.

millennials gathered around a graph discussing

While millennials very much desire freedom, they also want to work in an environment where they can cultivate strong relationships with other employees and work together towards common goals that are meaningful to them in some way. Millennials want to do more than just show up to work. They want to be a part of something bigger. They want to be part of a positive of change. If businesses want to engage their millennial workers, they must focus on creating a company culture that engages them on many levels.  Businesses that are successful in maintaining millennial employees have shifted their workflows to allow for the motivational tools that work best for new employee outlooks. A good example is adjusting tasks from a single manager to a group of equals who collaborate to accomplish a specific task. The team motivates all members to excel and the team feels the accomplishment of success. The need to be part of something bigger is the key motivator for millennials.

2. Provide Professional Growth and Development Culture

For businesses to keep millennials engaged in the workplace, they will need to ensure that their working experience is one where they don’t feel stuck.  Millennials need a different type of professional growth and development. There are plenty of ways for businesses to provide this to their employees such as mentoring programs and continued training that develops new skills.  These programs indirectly groom employees for leadership and identify those best suited for leadership positions. Businesses should implement changes that both benefit the business and improve employee satisfaction. Providing employees with an opportunity for professional growth and development clearly does both.

millennials working together smiling

3. Help Them Make a Difference

For millennials, their job is part of their lifestyle, and their lifestyle is all about making an impact in this world. Millennials want to be able to channel their passions at work and have a more meaningful experience. Traditionally, employees were more focused on monetary incentives and, while those are still great, millennials are looking for emotional rewards.

In other words, millennials want to feel connected to the work they do. In fact, 83% of millennials said they would be more loyal to a company that helps them contribute to social and environmental issues. This percentage shows that millennials are more purpose-driven than anything else and they desire to be a part of a company that will help them make their mark in society.

This means that businesses are going to have to make a commitment to responsible business practices. Businesses should get into the practice of displaying corporate social responsibility and doing philanthropy work, as these are the qualities of a business that millennials look for before applying for a position.

millenial employees smiling and discussing around a table.

More millennials are entering the working world, and they have well-defined demands that are shaping the way business is conducted. In order for businesses to attract and retain millennial employees, they need to find new and effective ways to keep them engaged. Millennials are not interested in just showing up for their shift, they want to make an impact. Additionally, millennials want to work for a business whose core values line up with their own values and lifestyle. Moreover, millennials want an upbeat and collaborative work experience that gives them balance and flexibility. Any business that can encompass the needs of millennials today can gain a dedicated employee for the long-haul.