How to Work With and Engage Millennials

Engaging millennials with technology /
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Approx. 4 min. read
Last updated: October 24, 2017

Building your employer reputation, attracting and engaging millennials might sound like a difficult task. These are, however, necessary steps for every business, as millennials make up a very large part of the current labor market.

People born between the early 1980s and 2004 are called millennials. It is worth leaders and managers investing time in understanding them, since according to PwC, they will make up 50% of the global job market by 2020. Millennials live, work and act in a way that is completely different from previous generations. Simon Sinek, author and motivational speaker, defines them in a widely spread interview as an impatient, technology-addicted generation that wants instant gratification. He also mentions that millennials are the masters of filtering things out, but they have extremely low self-esteem.

According to Sinek, millennials lack certain important skillsets, such as the ability to ask for help or build meaningful relationships with others. When they feel like their work has no impact in the workplace, they will leave without hesitation and switch to a new employer. This is one reason why those who are in leadership roles need to face that it’s their responsibility to create an open and motivational culture within their organizations and support ways of working that respond to their employees’ needs.

A strategy for attracting and engaging millennials should consist of two main parts: leadership and technology.

Related: The 3 Biggest Mistakes You’re Making In Employee Engagement

1) Leadership

Millennials want to have fun at work and enjoy what they do. To engage them, the working atmosphere needs to be supportive and adjusted to their needs. Many companies have already acknowledged that today’s employees are truly interested in their organization’s vision, mission and values, as they want to make an impact. The next right step for leaders is to act and work based on company values. They should walk the walk and demonstrate those values well. Managers can allow them to work in their own ways, but within guided frames. Guidance can in this case mean basing actions on the company values or offering help without them asking for it.

Sinek also mentions in the interview that millennials may have difficulties with bonding relationships. Hence, managers need to show openness and support towards them if they want millennial workers to be successful at work. In practice, this can mean active listening and regularly given (constructive!) feedback. To respond to the impatient nature of the millennial mindset, frequent but short one-to-one discussions with two-way feedback may be the way to go. Note that these feedback sessions should not aim for micromanaging employees, but rather supporting them.

By demonstrating empathy from the very start, you can build the millennials’ trust towards their supervisors, while tying them more closely to the organization. Drawing a possible career path or providing a possibility for advancement gives a motivational spark and a goal they can work towards.

Millennial workplace

2) Technology

The second component of working with millennials around is technology. Engagement through technology and gamification might sound a bit complicated, but honestly, it’s not! Considering the fact that this generation is already addicted to technology, if organizations give them fun online (and offline) tools to work with, millennials will want to stay. These applications and softwares at work must be quick, modern, and up-to-date – I mean, the latest versions on the AppStore – and engaging. Of course, you need a strategy for using technology, or adoption rates won’t be staggering.

To start off, invest in an internal communication tool that is used every single day at work. Note that it is crucial to have a well-functioning mobile version of it. Why? Simply because millennials are the leading generation in smartphone usage (Nielsen Mobile Insights Q3 2016). Then, using an online project management tool, like Target Process makes sure that workers have a clear picture of what they have on their table; they can track what has been already done and what has not.

Leaders should ask the vital question: how can they share internal news and updates with the whole organization? If they do not have a clear answer, it might be time to consider adopting an employee communication tool like Smarp. Company-wide knowledge sharing is key these days for keeping everyone up-to-date. And, as it is quick, easy and even has a fun gamification factor embedded, millennials might quite enjoy it.

When choosing any of these tools, keep in mind the possibilities for integrations and automations. We are in the Fourth Industrial Revolution when digitalization and robotization are peaking, and millennials stand on top of numerous online innovations. If an organization creates a sense of community by connecting and integrating online tools and softwares to working processes, the chances of engaging millennials to stay, have fun and be productive are lifted.

Conclusion

For millennials to achieve success at work, leaders need to combine and put into practice the above mentioned two-component strategy: having an open and supportive company culture, and offering fast-paced technology solutions for working purposes. Engaging millennials is not that tough after all. Putting some energy and resources into an organization’s culture will shape employees’ attitudes and willingness to work.

A free guide on how to boost employee engagement with employee communication tools