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4 Simple Ways To Engage Your Millennial Employees

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Liz Greene

Unless you’re allergic to business buzzwords, you are probably aware of the employee engagement dilemma facing companies worldwide. Likewise, many organizations are adjusting to the needs and desires of the next generation of employees known as millennials. Just in case, here are some eye-opening facts and statistics:

– Engaged employees are 87% less likely to quit their jobs.

– Turnover rates are nearly 15% lower for companies who implement employee engagement activities.

– Employee turnover can equal as much as 150% of the given employee’s salary.

– Engagement has a marked effect on both absenteeism and retention.

– Companies with an average of 9.3 engaged employees for every actively disengaged employee experienced 147% higher earnings per share compared with their competition.

– Organizations in the top quartile for engagement saw a 4% increase in sales growth compared to an average company.

– Organizations in the top quartile in employee engagement outperformed bottom-quartile units by 10% on customer ratings.

Simply put, engaged employees reduce expenses, increase profit, and create more loyal customers.

Since Generation Y is expected to make up 50% of the global workforce by 2020, making sure they’re actively engaged is key. Unfortunately, as of May 2016, only 29% of Millennials are engaged at work. This is a problem that needs addressing — and sooner rather than later.

Engaging millennial employees isn’t particularly difficult, it only requires treating them like human beings. Regrettably, most advice on the subject is coming from people who either present Generation Y as lazy, entitled children who would rather take a selfie than work a day in their life, or those who regard millennials as if they were a newly discovered species of beetle — more insect than human.

As a millennial employee who has struggled to engage with her company, here’s what will definitely win your younger employees over.

Show a Little Appreciation

Millennials have a greater expectation to be supported and appreciated than previous generations. According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, 41% of millennials prefer to be rewarded or recognized for their work at least monthly, if not more frequently. A study by BambooHR backed that up when they found 75% of employees receiving at least monthly recognition (even if informal) are satisfied with their job.

Often touted as the “trophy generation”, this yearning for recognition doesn’t come from a desire to be drowned in accolades, it actually comes from an acute fear of failure. Gen Yers want to do their job, and they want to do it well. They don’t need a lavish song and dance about how great they are, a simple pat on the back and compliment is enough to assure them that they’re doing a good job, and encourage them to keep doing their best.

My manager does a fabulous job of providing employee feedback to let me know when I’m “killing it”, and he always seems to time it when I’m feeling incredibly insecure. These little nuggets of praise are often just what I need, and keep me both motivated and focused on my work.

Offer Some Flexibility

Most millennials believe that productivity should be measured by the quantity and quality of the work they perform — not by the number of hours they spend in the office. Millennials crave flexibility in their working environment, as well as the opportunity to shift hours (starting their work days later, working at night, etc.) They don’t see the need to spend every waking moment in the office when they can do some (or all) of their work from home. In fact, a study from Earnest found that 41% of employees would trade 1/10 of their salary for more flexibility, such as remote work.

If their position allows for it — and significant trust has been established — providing an option for employees to work from home a few (or more) days a week will make your company extremely popular with Gen Y. If remote work is off the table, create a comfortable environment where there are multiple types of work spaces — from quiet areas for work free of interruption to collaborative spaces where employees can gather to share information and ideas.

Respect Your Introverts

Although just over half of the population are introverted, it’s extroverted workers who get all the positive attention. However, introverted employees have just as much to offer as their extroverted colleagues. In order to see results, though, you have to cater to a few of their needs.

With introverts, the biggest thing to remember is to respect their need for silence and space.

If you find them quiet during a meeting, it usually because they either feel everything’s already been or they’re taking time to process information and respond in the way that’s most comfortable for them. And yes, while teamwork is essential in business, introverts shine when working independently; allow them to work without constant interruption, and away from their desk if necessary.

All you really need to do is give them clear expectations, deadlines, and a lot of space.

Employ Decent Software

One of these things is not like the others — and yet it’s equally as important.

Since Generation Y are digital natives, technology plays a large part in every aspect of their lives, including work. They expect technology to be involved in almost every part of their work day — and they depend on it. Chat clients, project management software, time management software, enterprise resource planning — these are all things they require in order to do their jobs well.

And not only do they expect this software, they want to have a say in how it works: 32% of millennials like being able to customize software views so that the most relevant features are displayed. The more (and better) software you offer, the more efficiency you’ll see.

Millennials aren’t a mystery. In truth, the best way to engage, retain, and make loyal employees out of them is to respect them. Millennials crave feedback, so give them a voice, listen to their ideas, and allow a strong measure of autonomy. You’ll see things you never imagined, for your business and the valuable employees who make it successful.

Image Credit: Web4CamGuy

 Liz Greene is a writer, marketing professional, and history geek from Boise, Idaho. You can follow her on Twitter @LizVGreene or catch her latest misadventures on her blog, Instant Lo.

Do you find it more difficult to engage millennial employees over those of a different generation? Leave a comment below…