Vistage Research Center

Get actionable, data-driven insights and expert perspectives from our global community of CEOs and thought leaders. Led by Joe Galvin, Chief Research Officer

Retaining the millennial workforce through engagement


multigenerational workforce

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.

Related articles

Reaping the biggest benefits of your multigenerational workforce

How companies can hold onto millennial talent (podcast)

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Predefined Skins

Primary Color

Background Color

Example Patterns

demo demo demo demo demo demo demo demo demo demo

Privacy Policy Settings

  • Required Cookies
  • Performance Cookies
  • Functional Cookies
  • Advertising Cookies
These cookies are essential in order to enable you to move around the Sites and use its features, such as accessing secure areas of the Sites and using Vistage’s Services. Since these cookies are essential to operate Vistage’s Sites and Services, there is no option to opt out of these cookies.
These cookies collect information about how visitors our Sites, for instance which pages visitors go to most often. These cookies don’t collect information that identifies a visitor. All information these cookies collect is aggregated and therefore anonymous. If you do not allow these cookies we will not know when you have visited our site, and will not be able to monitor its performance.

Cookies used

Visual Web Optimizer
These cookies remember information you have entered or choices you make (e.g. as your username, language, or your region), and provide enhanced, more personal features. They may also be used to provide services you have asked for such as watching a video or commenting on a blog. They may be set by us or by third party providers whose services we have added to our pages. If you do not allow these cookies then some or all of these services may not function properly.

Cookies used

Google Analytics
GTM
Gravity Forms
These cookies are used to make advertising more relevant to you and your interests. The cookies are usually placed by third party advertising networks. They remember the websites you visit and that information is shared with other parties such as advertisers. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.