5 Ways to Engage Millennials at Work


Gallup released a 2013 study that says only 13% of employees worldwide say they are engaged at work. Sadly that number was up from just 10% from two years prior. I guess the good news is the percentage of employees claiming to be actively disengaged dropped from 27% to 24% in the same time period. Together, 1.2 billion employees worldwide claim they are not engaged in their job. Talk about a loss in productivity. Good news, you can engage them!

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Thankfully, the US numbers shows an incline from 29% in 2013 to 34.1% engaged rate in 2016 and one of the lower actively disengaged percentages. It seems that something is wrong though. Maybe we have too much management and not enough leadership? Millennials are not standing idle on the sidelines, engage them in work or expect to lose them.

Have you ever heard someone say “I just don’t know about this generation” or some rendition? If you answered no, pay better attention. I heard both of my grandfathers say a version of this way to many times to count.  Depending on the source, one was a GI the other a Silent or both were Silent Generation. Regardless, Boomers and Gen Xers rocked their world and they weren’t sure we’d make it to the next one.

Everywhere I go I hear or see something negative about Millennials. This poor generation hasn’t stood a chance since before they entered the workforce. Or have they? The term Millennial came along after I was in the workforce. I grew up under the term Gen Y. Over the last ten years, Millennial has become the accepted name, but one with a negative connotation. Millennials aren’t bad, but they are wired differently. Here are 5 ways you can engage Millennials at work to help them reach their potential.

  1. Give them the Why
    You probably think that you don’t owe anyone a “why”. In generations past, that was how things operated. The exploding Millennial generation operates on why. Not just the why do we make a copy of this report but the WHY behind our purpose. Why we do what we do.You may be thinking to yourself, why would I want to explain myself. Before writing it off, think about it from this perspective. If you are trying to accomplish a customer service initiative that has not been well received. Do you think the people would try harder if you explain what the vision of the outcome looks like? Just try it and see.
  1. Use Social Media
    Yeah, I’m telling you to use that no good social media. Not only will this be a great area to learn more about your followers, it also is great for recruiting drives and tells you a lot about someone before you hire them. Social media is not going anywhere anytime soon. Oh, I forgot there are nearly 70 million Millennials out there now and almost everyone has a social media account. Talk about free access to understanding your potential customer base.
  2. Collaborate with them
    Out with the solo, in with the team. I wrote about the New ABCs of Leadership last week. The C was for Collaboration. Millennials love working in teams in a collaborative manner. The more diverse the team, the better. Diversity looks very different to Millennials than ever before. Find teams and help them find cohesion to work together.
  3. Flexibility
    It may go against every grain in your body, but flexibility is one of the new job benefits that carries as much weight as health insurance did a generation ago. Maybe you can’t offer odd schedules or a come as you please environment, but could you do a work from home day, flex around their work hours for a doctor’s appointment, etc? Giving some flexibility can help you engage them but also recruit them.
  4. Instant Feedback
    You probably have annual performance reviews. I can’t tell you enough how useless they are with Millennials. If you want to win over Millennial engagement, you have to be available to help them see areas for improvement as they happen and praise areas of success. Waiting a year to correct an issue is a lost opportunity. I promise, Millennials want to be productive members of society, give them to tools and constructive feedback to help.

I feel like I’ve rambled in this post, but the more I look the more I see Millennials being setup to fail. Raise the bar, engage them, and let them help you.


Question: How can you better engage Millennials (or anyone) that work for you? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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