Gen Why - Michelle Eggleston



Engagement is at the heart of organizational performance. Without elevated levels of engagement, organizations can experience diminished returns on investment, high turnover rates and reduced morale and productivity.

According to the 2016 Gallup report “How Millennials Want to Work and Live,” only 29 percent of millennials are engaged, meaning they are emotionally and behaviorally connected to their job and company. This makes millennials (the largest segment of our workforce) the least engaged generation in the workplace, with 71 percent of millennials predominately not engaged or actively disengaged.

But is this surprising? Let’s think about this for a second. Millennials are on the bottom-rung of the corporate ladder, claiming many entry-level positions. Fresh-faced employees must “pay their dues” and work hard toward establishing a solid work ethic and sound decision-making abilities before being granted more challenging roles.

Think back to when you were entering the workforce. How would you rate your engagement level? Did you have the most exciting job in the company – let alone your dream job? Odds are your answer is “no.” While this is a determining factor in engagement levels, we must also take into account the values of the millennial generation. Millennials are seeking more than a job that pays the bills, they are seeking meaningful opportunities to expand their skillset that align with their core values.

While millennials can come across as relentlessly demanding, the reality is that they just want a job that feels worthwhile ― and they will keep looking until they find it. Gallup estimates that millennial turnover due to lack of engagement costs the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually. This is a call to action for organizations to ramp up engagement strategies that target millennials or risk a turnover cycle that drains company time, money and resources.

Learning and development can help drive millennial engagement across the organization. Here are a few strategies to reel millennials in before they check out:

Prepare to engage on Day 1

The official start date of employees is just as important for the company as it is for the individual. This day represents the first chance organizations have to effectively engage employees in the company culture and their job. Through onboarding practices, job rotations or mentoring relationships, it is critical for organizations to engage employees in their early days with the company, or risk leaving them behind.

Regular meetings with management

Opening up the communication channels between manager and employee is crucial for effective performance management. Millennial workers are more engaged than non-millennials when their managers provide frequent and consistent communication and feedback. Forty-four percent of millennials who hold regular meetings with their managers are engaged, according to Gallup.

Identify opportunities to impact company culture

Many organizations donate, volunteer or raise awareness for charities or non-profits. Providing opportunities for millennials to contribute their input on where the company should focus their efforts can help them find deeper meaning and satisfaction in their job and company. Millennials can help lead service efforts on behalf of the company, refining project management skills and working for a worthwhile cause.

Acknowledge employee accomplishments throughout the company

Companies that celebrate the work and accomplishments of their employees create a positive workplace culture. Organizations can spread the word via the company intranet, a dedicated employee newsletter or at company events. These announcements reinforce that the company notices hard work and appreciates the efforts of its employees, which can ultimately motivate employees to work harder.

At the end of the day, engagement is a two-way street. While organizations must provide development opportunities, it is up to the employee to “grab the baton” and engage in their job and company. Employees can either choose to engage or remain actively disengaged.