Engaging Millennials: Challenge or Opportunity?
The workforce as we have traditionally known it, is fast becoming a thing of the past. As our reliance on technology increases in our private lives, so too does the demand and expectation that our workplaces will follow. Today’s employees expect flexibility, seamless systems and processes, as well as easy to navigate digital platforms.
And no one expects this more so than the rising generation of workers; the millennials. This group is tech savvy, adaptable and creative and they are used to having everything work seamlessly on their devices.
At the recent Trans-Tasman Business Circle lunch, Michael Ebeid, Group Executive at Telstra Enterprise, identified the challenge of engaging millennials in the workforce as a key issue for organisations. He explained that when millennials join the workforce they become disillusioned because organisations haven’t caught up with digital disruption and therefore companies find it harder to engage this group of people.
This is a reality backed by a Gallup poll, which found that only 29 per cent of millennials are engaged at work, meaning only about three in 10 are emotionally and behaviourally connected to their job and company. Not a great statistic when millennials will soon be the majority in the workforce.
So how do you engage a group of tech savvy millennials? Is it too much of a challenge, or an opportunity waiting to be grabbed?
We at Enlighten firmly believe it’s the latter, and organisations who don’t address the issue of engagement with millennials will be left behind. Below we outline three ways to engage and retain this group of employees:
1. Be ready for the digital frontier
Technology is fundamentally changing the way people work. As Michael Ebeid identified, when millennials come to work they expect to be as efficient as they are in their personal life. When this expectation isn’t met, it leads to frustration, low morale and high staff turnover.
Organisations must deploy tools to automate processes, so employees’ skills are used to complete meaningful tasks. Empower employees with the technology that makes their lives easier and train people in new ways of doing things. Invest in a metric tool
that sets and tracks goals for team members. This allows tasks to be streamlined and managers to identify gaps and address them accordingly.
2. It’s all about team member
Engagement strategies that worked for previous generations don’t meet the needs of millennials. Today’s employees want to feel valued, and they aren’t necessarily interested in purely working their way up the ‘corporate ladder’. Rather, they value flexibility and a sense of purpose as to why they are working.
Brent Churchill, CEO and Co-Founder at Enlighten says, “I cannot stress enough the importance of investing in the individual team member. It is invaluable. Understanding their career path, developing training plans, regularly checking-in with them, and fostering a collaborative work environment are all practical things that improve engagement and encourage people to stay at a company”.
3. Introducing a system of continuous movement
Continuous learning and development are vital for millennial workers, who are aspirational and want to contribute as well as advance. To help them succeed, managers of millennials must have metrics available to them. This means equipping millennials with data and providing training on how to use this data to drive results.
Additionally, managers must be equipped to remove themselves from the daily grind and see themselves as leaders who focus on management functions such as planning, managing capacity, improving processes, removing waste and building team cohesiveness. This will all enable continuous improvement which ultimately leads to employee engagement.
Engaging millennial workers is not a ‘nice to do’, it is essential to the future success of the organisation. Understanding that millennials have different values and expectations to past generations will enable leaders to engage and retain a group of employees who are the workers of the future.