4 Employee Engagement Secrets From Millennials

The fastest-growing demographic in the workforce knows a few things about motivating and leading others.

With their widespread entrance into the workplace, millennials are bringing new requirements of employee engagement that include creativity, entrepreneurialism, and accelerated career growth. Research by Deloitte is projecting that millennials will make up 75% of the global workforce by 2025. They are supportive of--and engaged with--companies that care about more than a high-profit margin.

Leaders are noticing the change. According to Deloitte, 78% of business leaders rate retention and engagement as urgent or important.

What secrets of employee engagement can you pick up from millennials? It’s not about pay or work-life balance. Here are some ways to increase engagement in your organization:

1. Instill Genuine Confidence in the Company’s Leaders

According to a study by Australian startup Culture Amp, 74% of those surveyed said confidence in their leadership was a key driver of engagement.

After economic uncertainty and layoffs, employees need to feel they can trust the people leading their company. They need to have leaders they can look up to, and aspire to emulate. Creating a culture of transparency and requiring an ongoing dialogue between management and staff costs nothing, but it can increase employee engagement and happiness exponentially.

2. Contribute to the Industry

According to the Culture Amp study, 72% of those surveyed said the company should be a great place to contribute to their field. Employees ultimately want to feel they are doing tasks to help move entire industries forward.

To do this, it is imperative to offer employees the appropriate motivation, time, and tools to understand how their work and your organization are both contributing to the big picture. You can try implementing an 80-20 rule like Google, offering employees time away from the office to be inspired, or sponsoring a hackathon to get new teams collaborating. In the end, it will not only benefit the entire industry, but also your company’s image and brand as innovative and visionary.

3. Introduce Impact Jobs

Going beyond the company’s profit margin is key to engaging and motivating employees. According to a survey by nonprofit Net Impact, employees of all generations who felt they had impact jobs were two times more satisfied at work.

You need to instill giving back to the community as part of the company’s DNA. Give employees the option of what cause they would like to take part in, as well as offer them extra time for to volunteer, or run their own donation campaigns. For example, Aveda’s crowdsourced local water project engaged employees through a cause that was relevant to their company’s mission.

4. Crowdsource Innovation from Within

Everyone knows innovation is key to a successful company, but creating a culture that values and fosters innovative thought can be a challenge. What about crowdsourcing innovation within your own organization? Enabling a culture that promotes suggestions from employees can give employers insights they would not get elsewhere. I’m frequently amazed at how employees from different departments are able to problem-solve together. Our open office space leads to casual conversations about everyday challenges, and often the solution comes from a team member who is not directly involved.

The bottom line is that an open door policy just won’t cut it anymore--you need to find a way to leverage your most prized assets. Your organization might survey customers to gauge their satisfaction. Think about implementing those surveys with the talent you screened, hired, and continue to trust with moving the company forward.

As Josh Bersin wrote: "[Millennials] don't want a career; they want an experience." This new culture of engagement, largely driven by New Tech companies, has set a new standard for workplace environments.

It’s time to take some secrets from the new millennial workforce and implement them into your culture.

--Andre Lavoie is the CEO of ClearCompany, the first talent alignment platform that bridges the gap between talent management and business strategy by contextualizing employees’ work around a company’s vision and goals. You can connect with him and the ClearCompany team on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

[Image: Shutterstock]

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8 Comments

  • Great article, thanks. One overarching trend that I've seen through my work @CommonImpact is that Millennials are demanding more meaningful work experiences -- whatever "meaningful" means to them. Individuals are developing personal brands, transitioning jobs every 2-3 years, starting their own companies -- instead of starting career-long journeys at a single company. Places pressure on employers, absolutely -- but in a way that ultimately will lead to a more purposeful, effective workforce.

  • Great goals, Andre. But what executives/managers need are the precise actions they must take. The real goal is to cause their people to become highly motivated, highly committed, fully engaged Superstars who love to come to work and are at least 300% more productive than if poorly engaged (the norm according to Gallup surveys).

    The required actions are obvious if one understands the science of people, why they react the way they do to what management does and does not do. Take a look at this short video to learn the actions required. http://www.bensimonton.com/how-to-create-engaged-employees.html

  • This is where supporting the young professional's involvement in their industry and professional associations can make a big difference. Our experience in the CPA Profession is that these young professionals can and want to have an opportunity to make an impact on their entire industry and their are plenty of non-profit associations ready if businesses will support them and give them time and permission to participate in activities. they in turn will learn valuable skills in leadership, communication and often meaningful work.

  • Bun Thomas

    Andrew-- we used to call "Crowdsource Innovation" brainstorming. Also, the word "entrepreneurial" is the most overused word in the English business language. And your job description / mission statement is the biggest line of hype I have read this week. I must admit it is brilliant to be able to sell yourself using well placed envogue language. As usual, your methods try to mask the fact that a true business exists for profit. My son is a "millennial" and he still doesn't know where his paycheck actually comes from. It has been put into his head that corporations and profits are a bad thing, yet his company's tech stock is rising out of sight. "Effective Leadership Communication?" WTF? If you are a sustainable business--- what else would you do? This article is just Management 101 rehashed using current overused terms. Best regards.

  • Bun -- We absolutely agree that a true business exists for profit (although we do hope that businesses are also driven to "Do Stuff That Matters" -- our motto!), and that's why we're so wrapped up in employee engagement! Have you seen the recent Gallup and Towers Watson studies that have shown how companies with higher levels of employee engagement saw their profit margins jump? Definitely worth checking out! Unfortunately, I think all of us have had the experience, at some point in our careers, of working at a company that, though ultimately successful, didn't value innovation from their employees (or brainstorming, if you will). They resist moving forward because they know that their old ideas have worked just fine -- or they want to come up with all of the ideas between themselves and fellow leadership. Or they don't have a tool in place to keep up with the great ideas that their floor level employees are brainstorming (or to maximize the effectiveness of their top down comms)!

  • Bun -- We absolutely agree that a true business exists for profit (although we do hope that businesses are also driven to "Do Stuff That Matters" -- our motto!), and that's why we're so wrapped up in employee engagement! Have you seen the recent Gallup and Towers Watson studies that have shown how companies with higher levels of employee engagement saw their profit margins jump? Definitely worth checking out! Unfortunately, I think all of us have had the experience, at some point in our careers, of working at a company that, though ultimately successful, didn't value innovation from their employees (or brainstorming, if you will). They resist moving forward because they know that their old ideas have worked just fine -- or they want to come up with all of the ideas between themselves and fellow leadership. Or they don't have a tool in place to keep up with the great ideas that their floor level employees are brainstorming (or to maximize the effectiveness of their top down comms)!

  • Wow, you guys really get it! Great article! We've talked about all of these points while developing our Plethos product (if you like the things Andre touches on in this article, you should really check us out @ www.plethos.com). It's so nice to see that we're on a track with things that millennials value! "Crowdsourcing innovation from within" is absolutely at the top of our list... and effective leadership communication. Definitely retweeting this!