Understanding and Engaging Millennial Employees

These days, employers are extremely focused on Millennials – engaging them, attracting them and retaining them. Millennials are the generation of young adults that came of age in the year 2000 and they comprise more than 35% of the Canadian workforce. But in order to effectively engage Millennials, one needs to first understand what makes them ‘tick’.

Millennials Favour Customization

Millennials are accustomed to the fast-paced change characterized by the emergence of the Internet. With the click of a button, they understand that environments can be customized, messaging can be overhauled and new opportunities can emerge. Understandably, they now expect a similar level of flexibility and customization at work.

In fact, 73% of Millennials expect to be able to modify their work computer to their own needs and interests, and 63% will take the initiative and bypass workplace IT protocols to find the solutions they need (Mobile Enterprise).

Similarly, Millennials want to be able to customized their career tracks, customize their work environments and customize their designated areas of responsibility.

Takeaway: To the extent that you can offer a Millennial employee a greater sense of flexibility and autonomy to customize their work, the happier they will be. Work-from-home arrangements, bring-your-own-device policies and opportunities for job growth will all serve as motivation.

Millennials Crave Innovation

Millennials grew up in an era where technology was evolving at lightning speed. They barely recall life before the Internet, and in their lifetime, they watched their large, clunky, graphically-challenged game consoles replaced by handheld, powerful and graphically-engaging iPads.

According to a recent study by Deloitte, nearly 70% of Millennials choose to work in organizations that actively reward employees for innovative ideas. Millennials want to make a difference in the world, and believe passionately that this can be accomplished through out-of-the-box thinking and innovation.

Takeaway – Encourage employees to pitch new ideas and allow them to pursue the application of those ideas within the context of their work schedule. Host contests, hack-a-thons and forums to nurture creativity and reward accordingly.

Millennials Like to Feel a Sense of Ownership

According to a recent study conducted by Millennial Branding, 89% of Millennials prefer to choose when and where they work rather than being placed in a 9-to-5 position. While this certainly speaks to flexibility, it also reflects a desire for autonomy and ownership.

Millennials have a particularly entrepreneurial mindset and want to be able to make their own decisions and forge their own path. They want ownership of their careers – and they understand the importance of branding (since, after all, they have been managing their own personal brands since the emergence of Facebook).

Takeaway – Give your Millennial employees space and time to define their path. Let them have input into the type of work they are going to do. Encourage them to own their outcomes so that there is a clear sense of accountability.

In order to attract, engage and retain top Millennial performers, you want to be mindful of their needs and interests. By investing in policies and practices that prioritize their preferences, you will nurture a work environment that yields considerable returns.

For more information on how to craft these policies and reward employees effectively, contact Miller Bernstein today.


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