Performance Management / HR

Retaining the millennial workforce through engagement

Watch the webinar “Debunking the Millennial Myth: How to Retain and Engage Your Millennial Workforce.”

Retaining the millennial workforce doesn’t have to be a mystery. We’ve measured and tracked the employee engagement of thousands of employees—across every industry and job type you can imagine—and that data has opened our eyes to a few universal truths. One of those truths is that generational differences matter… and it’s vital that leaders take them into consideration when making business decisions that impact their talent. (So basically… all decisions.)

Millennial employees: the stats

Millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) make up 35% of the U.S. workforce today. They also have an average job tenure of 2.8 years. If you’re keeping score, that’s three years less than their Gen X counterparts and seven years less than the average tenure of baby boomers.

The good news is, while the average millennial does have a tendency to leave a job after two or three years, research shows they actually want to stay longer. In fact, 40% actually envision themselves staying at their current organization for at least nine years.

What this data tells us is that at some point during the first year or two of a job, millennial employees become disengaged in their work. Or, they were never engaged to begin with. So what makes this particular demographic different from other working generations and how can business leaders combat turnover and maximize performance?

Employee engagement vs. employee satisfaction

A big disconnect happening in companies today is that many leaders are confusing employee satisfaction with employee engagement. They still believe millennials are drawn to companies that offer perks like snacks or ping-pong tables. And maybe they’re right. Those things can be great for attracting talent and perhaps even increasing employee satisfaction. But they mean absolutely nothing when it comes to employee engagement—which means investing in those perks will do nothing to improve performance and profits.

Purpose is a key driver of employee engagement, and Emplify’s data has proven time and again that it’s especially relevant for millennial engagement. Deloitte discovered similar findings in their 2017 millennial survey:

“It is in the workplace where millennials feel most influential and, in turn, accountable. This is an important point for businesses to acknowledge as it offers a platform from which to build each employee’s sense of purpose and, ultimately, a more engaged workforce.”

For employees to find a real sense of passion and purpose, they need to be doing work that’s personally meaningful to them. It’s up to company leadership to drive a purposeful culture, and it’s up to managers to ensure the people on their teams are getting the fulfillment they need from their work.

Discover your millennial talent’s “why”

To help employees find meaning in their work, a combination of open communication with managers and confidential feedback is vital. Millennial or otherwise, each employee is different and has unique motivations.

Everyone is capable (and deserving) of a sense of purpose in their job, regardless of what that job is. Just like the NASA janitor, who when asked by then-President John F. Kennedy what his job was replied, “Oh, Mr. President, I’m putting a man on the moon.”

That janitor is the epitome of what an engaged employee looks like. When people understand how the work they do—whether it’s mopping floors or writing algorithms—impacts the greater mission of the company, they have a vested interest in its success.

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How companies can hold onto millennial talent (podcast)

Category: Performance Management / HR Talent Management

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About the Author: Santiago Jaramillo

A nationally recognized expert and keynote speaker on employee engagement, Santiago Jaramillo is the co-author of Agile Engagement, an Amazon best-selling book that provides employers with a framework for improving employee engagement and ac…

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