The New Boom. Millennials. Call them what you will, the generation born between 1980 and 1996 are influential by virtue of their sheer numbers, but also because of their remarkable cultural and technological impacts on the society. It’s no wonder, then, that organisations and their leaders are realising the importance of understanding how to engage millennials at the workplace.
According to a recent report, millennials could become the most productive generation with the right combination of management and motivation. However, traditional policies for retention, such as higher pay or designation change, might not be enough to engage the Echo Boomers—that’s yet another term for them.
In order to attract and retain them, companies need to adopt a wider, more diverse approach, covering aspects such as personal and professional growth or progressive work culture.
Strong employer brand
Identify your employee value proposition that sets your organisation apart—it could be your flat structure, ethics, community focus or your unconventional approach. Understand the qualities that appeal to the millennial population and try and include the ones which match with your larger goals. Whatever you decide it is, make sure it will be able to represent your brand for the long-term, as you will have to live with these values and reiterate them to candidates for years to come. An aspirational, long-term vision and how you intend to achieve it is often what attracts young employees in the first place.
Good company culture
Millennials value company culture immensely and are drawn to organisations that create an appealing work atmosphere for their employees. This could entail flexible work hours, provision of facilities such as gyms at the workplace, having an open-door policy or a flat company structure. Having game-changing people at the helm usually acts as a strong magnet for exceptional talent who want to work with like-minded people. If your company is lucky enough to have these leaders, make sure to capitalise on it. Once a candidate is on board, this is your best chance to exceed his expectations with your great policies and workplace culture.
It has been shown that salary alone is not a strong determinant of employee motivation and retention. Smart companies make the maximum use of non-monetary perks—like flexitime, employee stock ownership plans (ESOPs), work from home and sponsored trainings. Investing in an employee’s future shows them that they mean a lot to the company, while the flexible work hours will help them maintain work-life balance and perform better. Undertaking various learning & development initiatives to enhance the growth and capabilities of your people and providing them a clear vision of their future in the company are critical ways to retain this segment of the workforce. Don’t forget to publicise these benefits, especially if they are unconventional, as they make for great talking points.
Assessing & improving
A large proportion of the millennial generation values ownership in their work and detests micro-management. Others love the idea of working in cross-functional roles. Depending on which sector you are in, employees may value different aspects. Why not ask them what they find important and try to incorporate it. It is a great motivator for an employee to know you are being heard and your suggestions acted upon. Quick reviews or employee engagement surveys have shown to be very effective in determining what companies or HR should focus on first, and can go a long way in retaining one of the most valuable segments of your workforce.
The findings of the Dale Carnegie Training’s whitepaper “Igniting Millennial Engagement” reveal that millennials desire a balance between individualism and loyalty.
This study suggests that for millennials, engagement might be linked more effectively to both personal gain (derived from recognition for bringing business to their employer), a sense of fulfilment (derived from helping others find a good business partner) and loyalty. A retention plan that takes these key findings of this study into account will be the most effective in retaining Gen Y employees.
The author is chairperson & managing director, Dale Carnegie Training India