Millennials, those born between 1980-1996, are filling the workforce. Roughly 73 million Americans are Millennials*1. In fact, data shows that by 2020 more than 50% of the workforce will be millennials*2. They will want to work differently than previous generations. They want to join companies open to their new ways of thinking and interacting. They want clarity around the meaning and purpose of the work. To attract them and keep them, there needs to be a culture which welcomes their values.
The Gallup, Inc.© report, State of the American Workplace*3 examines the level of engagement at work. The startling number is only 33% of U.S. employees are engaged at work. Gallup isolated the data to compare Millennials to Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. They found that Millennials are the generation least engaged (31%). An alarming trend is that percentage is going down. In 2017 only 29% of employed Millennials are engaged at work.
So why does that matter? Because when two-thirds of employees are not engaged, they just show up. They may be in the meeting or in front of their computer, but they are not productive nor do they really care about the bottom line success of the organization. That person in the meeting or at their computer is likely to be looking for a new job. The data from the State of the American Workplace found that 51% of U.S. employees say there are actively looking for a new job.
Unemployment is low in the U.S. (4.1%) 4*. However when I talk with clients about their most frequent keeps-me-up-at-night worry, most say it is employee turnover and the challenge of finding the best next employee.
It is not difficult to find out what Millennials want in their work environment.
Just ask them. They are dying to tell you.
Millennials with high potential for leadership, who I have coached, say job engagement and respect for their values is what they want. They also say that managers rarely build a workplace culture where they and their ideas are welcome. To find out what your Millennials want from work ask three questions. Do this frequently (weekly if you can manage it, but at the least monthly) of each employee you manage:
1. Tell me about the work you are doing that make it interesting to come to work?
2. How does your current project matter in the bigger picture?
3. As your supervisor, what do you need from me to encourage your creativity and purpose?
These questions will bring about discussion that hits at the heart of what Millennials want from their work. And they want you to know. They want to trust you to build a culture which accepts them.
The Gallup article How Millennials Want to Work and Live, outlines what Millennials tell us and the consequences of not listening. This list of imperatives for those leading Millennials is not difficult, but different from the way Boomers and Gen-Xers were managed. Here are a few keys to building a workplace culture where Millennials want to be.
- I like and need frequent feedback. The study found that “Employees who meet regularly with their manager generate higher performance for their team and company.” So work it in your weekly schedule to meet with each employee and discuss their work, strengths, and interests.
- I am wired. Millennials find most information they need on the internet. From their smart phone, they manage their finances, read the news, shop, read blogs, and talk to their colleagues. So encourage them to do project research on their devices, don’t ask them to put them away.
- I can be loyal. There is a misconception that Millennials are not loyal. It is true that when it comes to consumer loyalty they don’t need it. The consumer experience must line up with their values. But once a supervisor, a company vision, or a kind of coffee aligns with what they believe, they are all in. So understand their values and build a workplace culture that allows them to be and do what they believe then you’ve got loyalty.
Millennials are an amazing generation. Know them, love them, and lead them. You and your organization will be better for it!
*1 Gallup, Inc. 2016 How Millennials Want to Work and Live
*2 Pew Research Center May 11 2015 Millennials surpass Gen Xers as the largest generation in U.S. labor force
*3 Gallup, Inc. State of the American Workplace released 2017 based on data from 2015 and 2016
*4 Trading Economics, United States Unemployment Rate as of October 201