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Determining What it Takes to Engage Millennials in Business

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Determining What it Takes to Engage Millennials in Business

This past week I traveled to and worked with leaders in five cities across the US and Canada (Baltimore, Philadelphia, Knoxville, Houston, and Vancouver, B.C). In addition to three topics I typically talk and consult about (customer experience, leadership, and culture), in every setting one word kept coming up – Millennials!

Most leaders and frontline workers are trying to determine what it takes to engage Millennials (the group born somewhere between 1980 and 1996). We are all seemingly looking to connect with and retain millennial employees, co-workers, and customers.

Recently Gallup conducted an exhaustive study of Millennials – the results of which can be purchased or you can attend a regional workshop discussing the findings. For the purpose of this article, allow me to give a few highlights (or maybe you will view these as lowlights) from the comprehensive Gallup study:

When it comes to employment, most Millennials are constantly scanning their environment for opportunities.

  • 21% of Millennials say they have changed jobs in the past year.
  • The millennial turnover rate was three times that of other generations in the past year.
  • The annual cost to the U.S. economy, based on Gallup estimates, for millennial turnover is $30.5 billion.
  • Millennials report they are less likely to be with their current employer in a year (50% for Millennials vs 60% for other generations).
  • As would be expected from the “likely to stay” data, 60% of Millennials also report they are open to a new job opportunity (15% higher than non-Millennials).
  • Only 3 in 10 Millennials report being behaviorally and emotionally engaged in their job, while 16% are actively disengaged (pulling at cross-purpose with their companies).

So, what does this mean for your business?

From my vantage point, there are three important takeaways and action steps for each:

  • Traditional efforts which worked to engage many prior generations won’t work with Millennials.

Action Step: Spend more time talking directly to Millennials about what, if anything, you can do to increase the likelihood they will remain in your employment in a year.

  • The future workplace will be far more transient.

Action Step: Become efficient at on-boarding and orienting new hires to be productive quickly given that they will have a limited tenure working on your behalf.

  • Employee engagement and loyalty will become an even greater business advantage.

Action Step: Study trend data to gain a competitive advantage by increasing “discretionary effort” and “length of stay” for millennial workers. Brands that keep them longer, and get more out of each hour they are with you, will win in this changing work landscape.

Finally, the future is not bleak, it is bright!

Millennials are intelligent, energetic, entrepreneurial, and well-educated. People who treat them as such and build work environments that address their values and lifestyle will thrive in very special ways!

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