Engaging the Millennials in Your Workforce

“Millennials”, according to PEW Research Centre, are those born between 1981and 1996, ages from 24 to 39 in 2020. With the workforce evolving all the time, we recognize that millennials form a large part of our workforce today. It is critical therefore that organizations know how they can better engage their millennial workforce, that there can be greater efficiency and synergy.

From a work perspective, millennials occupy a space in-between the Gen Z generation, who look at influencers and social media platforms as legitimate lifestyle choices, and the Gen X generation who put-your-nose-to-the-grindstone when it comes to work. In other words, millennials are critical about having careers totally built on the likes of social media influence or YouTube, and they are also critical of just having work be the staple thing they pour themselves into. In that sense, they see themselves as occupying a unique ground, where they will be very thoughtful before investing into a cause. However, once they buy in to a cause, they will give their very best to achieve optimal results.

Assuming this is a millennial’s outlook of work, how then can organizations better engage their concerns? One key observation is that millennials tend to have a more “global” outlook of life. Millennials grew up in a world which was already very well networked and interconnected. Millennials recognize that people’s actions and lives can have impact beyond their physical borders. As such, their lenses of evaluation tend to extend beyond their immediate culture and concerns, to the global level. They carry with them this approach to their work as well. So, organizations need to consider how “globally-oriented” they are when engaging the millennials. The “cause” or impact of the work that a millennial is asked to do is a very important factor to the millennials.

Organizations can thus appeal to millennials by developing a corporate culture and environment which facilitates impact on lives that is meaningful and at scale. You may want to consider 3 quickfire tips on how to start growing such an environment in your workplace:

  1. Curate best practices – When was the last time your organization identified, and refined your best practices?
  2. Identify and experiment with talent – Where do you see value in people, projects and/or initiatives?
  3. Get connected, grow community – through repositories of knowledge, networking and contributing to communities to expand one’s horizons and deepen one’s expertise.

Millennials want to make an impact in the work that they are doing. So, they are absolutely fine when they are given opportunities to experiment, to push boundaries as long as they might provide value and services to others. Millennials have also been cited as an inquisitive group who prefer to challenge the status quo. They basically believe that the sky is the limit, and you will not know your true potential until it is tried and tested. In other words, they do not mind being tested, but ideally, in a safe environment where there is also guidance given. So, if you are an organization that is willing to model the willingness, the hunger to chase and grow through “imperfectly” iterating and pursuing these opportunities, you will engage and attract the millennials.

For an organization to do this, there are considerable risks because it requires deep changes to structures and cultures. It also means that it might cause some discomfort, inconveniences and messiness. It may also threaten some intergenerational values and familiar stability within the organization. You need to therefore weigh the cause and effect, and the efforts required. Bearing in mind also that millennials are your largest workforce now, and they will be your closest next generation leaders to succeed the retiring leaders in the not so far away near future.

With that in mind, business leaders should look at their millennial staff as people which, if nurtured accordingly, would help their organization achieve the next leap into progress and unprecedented results.

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