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How To Engage The Millennial Workforce

February 2016

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There has seldom been a generation written about as frequently as Millennials, and whilst there is a sense that their supposed differences to the rest of us have been over-egged, they are nonetheless a generation that warrant our attention.

For instance, a Gallup Poll from last year found that they are the least engaged part of the workforce, with the study revealing that just 28.9% are engaged at work.

So, if companies want to retain the best talent, it suggests that a change in approach is required. An initial insight into just what kind of workplace this could be was provided by a recent report from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, with work-life balance coming out top for what motivates Millennial employees.

Approximately 75% of respondents said that work-life balance was the key thing they looked for when planning their careers, and indeed some companies are slowly beginning to respond to this desire.

In addition to having a strong desire for flexibility, a number of other approaches are being used to keep Millennials engaged at work.

A Sense Of Purpose

Millennials have a strong moral compass that sees them want to work on projects that make a positive difference to the world.  Indeed, 60% of Millennials in a recent report revealed that “sense of purpose” was a big reason behind their choice of employer.

“Millennials are very aware of the rate of change in our world and see the opportunity to work in a large corporates as a way to pioneer that change at scale. Therefore, it’s vital that we create space in our organisations to allow them to experiment, take risks and pioneer,” Jeremy Basset, head of Unilever Foundry, told me recently.

Collaborative Working

Increasingly companies are looking to offer this via collaborative projects that bring talent together from across the organization. For instance, over 8,000 GE employees participated in community activities during 2015.

It is becoming common for Millennials to lead these efforts as employers give younger employees leadership opportunities in a safe environment.

“Within our business we currently offer six month secondments for junior staff to lead hackathons and build prototypes that are showcased in our Innovation Hub. We’ve found that employees relish the opportunity to manage these projects as this offers them a chance to think outside their traditional roles, learn new skills and work collaboratively with others from across Accenture,” says Nick Taylor, managing director at Accenture Digital.

This kind of collaborative environment is increasingly provided online, with Omnicom’s SHAPE platform a good example.

It provides a digital platform for some 400 marketing professionals to come together and work on challenges set by clients regardless of their discipline or status within the organization.

Leadership And Responsibility

Just as Accenture encourages its young people to lead projects, other companies foster a culture of responsibility by encouraging those with ideas to lead their development.

At Expedia, for instance, a “test and learn” philosophy pervades, with a scientific approach to testing out new ideas before any judgement on them is made.

“We believe this empowers all of our team members to put forward new ideas, which fosters creativity and innovation. We feel this is an important aspect to Millennials because they have grown up co-creating experiences most of their lives, so they have that expectation when they enter the workplace as well,” says Gary Morrison, SVP of Brand Expedia Retail.

The talent landscape is undoubtedly changing significantly as Millennials become a larger proportion of the workforce, and the examples above highlight how the smartest organizations are adapting to this shift ahead of time rather than waiting for change to hit them.

 

This article was written by Adi Gaskell from Forbes. This reprint is supplied by BNY Mellon under license from NewsCred, Inc.  

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