Millennials are becoming the majority of the workforce so how can you most effectively engage them? David Walker, chief commercial officer at Personal Group explores.

young employees

From the 60s to the modern day, there’s been an evolution in workplaces. We’ve been moving away from highly structured, hierarchical organisations, with a set career plan within the organisation that you worked up and through. Fast forward to today, and you’ve got very high performing organisations that allow people to get work done by collaborating and working together. They don’t need that formal structure, they don’t matrix frameworks, and they certainly don’t need a structured hierarchy around them to tell them they’re doing a good job. 

A multi-generational workforce means there’s five or six generations in the workforce at the same time and whilst many of today’s pressures and challenges affect us all, each of those groups do have something of a common set of values and behaviours. Although we must remember that each generation will want to be engaged in different ways.

For example one of the biggest challenges right now for baby boomers is that they are now coming up to retirement and they are taking years of skills and experience with them. Generation Xers who were brought up with hierarchy, order and job security, are experiencing change also. Many of this “tribe” face being the ‘sandwich generation’, often faced with the joint challenge and pressure of caring for their parents as well as their children.

So whilst it can be very dangerous to over-generalise, there are some more common ground across Gen Ys, Millennials and Gen Z. However, the Millennials view on job security and job stability is very different to previous generations. They are much more collaborative, they want to seek a partnership with an employer. They want to be more flexible and mobile in their approach to work with the average Millennial potentially having more than 20 employers within their working life – sometime difficult for a Baby Boomer or a Gen X-er to fully understand.

Millennials are becoming more powerful and prevalent. They are already, by some measures, the largest generation in the workforce. So how do you make the most out of them?

I think the most important thing is not to have of a one size fits all strategy, particularly when it comes to the nemesis of employee engagement - communication. You’re going to have different generations in the workforce which means different aspirations, different expectations of how they want to receive information and interact with you. There is an absolute need to run a multichannel strategy when it comes to communications – the skill is to tailor your engagement and communications programmes to the specific individual.

There is an obvious danger when reviewing how  Millennials want to be communicated to - because they are a ‘technoholic’ generation, brought up as digital natives with limitless connectivity and electronic networks,  it is easy to assume they just want to receive things via electronic media. We don’t agree.  

Interestingly, we have found that the Millennials we employ (and speak with every day!) actually prefer Face-to-Face communication. Spending the majority of their time on computers, iPad’s and phones mean that Face-to-Face is a refreshing change, so sometimes, old school works best!

However, that’s not to say we should underestimate the power of technology, and though many companies do not yet realise it, they already have one of the most technologically advanced communications network already in place…. employees will (almost) all have smartphones.

The number of employees who already use a smartphone will vary from company to company, but when we worked with one of our clients recently, over 98% had a mobile phone and 90% had a smartphone. You already have an infrastructure that allows you to communicate effectively to your workforce with the provision of Total Reward Statements or payslips, holiday booking or push notifications, sent directly to your employees. It hugely reduces the costs of what used to be major Engagement projects – this really is not a major investment strategy any longer – you just need to think differently.

One thing to remember is that Millennials are not a minority anymore, they’re (becoming) the majority. So what might be deemed as being a niche strategy or plan will now become the plan for the entire organisation in the very near future.

The key to unlocking productivity is driving employee engagement. The more effective you can make your workforce, the more you will benefit. When people feel they make a difference, they do.

Remember to communicate effectively to your staff, remember to unlock the power of new technology, remember that they all carry a device around with them already – it potentially gives you a communications infrastructure at no capital cost to you. If you get that right, you’re going to have the best chance in improving engagement across every generation, not just those tricky Millenials.

Sponsored by Personal Group