How to Engage Millennials and Generation Z at Work
Updated: Dec 5, 2020
The younger workforce, consisting of Millennials and Generation Z, currently comprises over half of the workforce in 2020. The ability to attract and engage these generations is top of mind for many organizations.
Baby Boomers and Generation X have primarily been conditioned to the hierarchal company structures with the mindset that they must “work their way up the corporate ladder” (where they expect promotions and increase in status as the main form of progression in their careers). For the younger working generations, the desire for skill development takes priority. Both Millennials and Generation Z are ready to showcase their work ethic, and while managers realize the importance of maximizing the new energy and speed that these younger workers are introducing, some managers are still unsure how to engage them in the workplace.
In this article, we outline 4 ways to harness the energy from younger generations and engage them at work.
1) Provide opportunities for greater responsibility
The younger generations are less focused on a big office and office perks, and more on the velocity of their career, career development, and company alignment. Millennials would take an average pay cut of $7,600 if they could improve their career development. Moreover, 86% of millennials would consider taking a pay cut to work at a company whose mission and values align with their own, according to LinkedIn’s Workplace Culture report. By comparison, only 9% of baby boomers would. To engage these younger generations, employers should act on Millennials' and Generation Z's ambitions and motivations. For example, make sure their individual contributions are aligned with team and organizational objectives, offer them opportunities to take more responsibility on projects, or place them on projects that develop and challenge them.
Remember that younger generations are not afraid to put in the time to progress in their careers. In fact, 73% of millennials already work more than 40 hours a week. Managers should avoid making assumptions about the ambitions of Millennials and Generation Z (who often get mistakenly dubbed the "lazy generation") and instead have conversations to uncover what truly motivates them at work.
2) Make work more collaborative
Younger generations value collaboration. Around 60% of individuals ages 18-44 have embraced at least three different collaboration tools for daily use. Collaboration is not only working with colleagues on projects, but also acts as a way to create team rapport. It can be a good idea to establish a mentorship program in your workplace to complement performance measurement and development training - mentors also do not need to be the direct manager, but rather peers (such as a high performer) or another manager. Younger generations can learn so much from having a mentor - 79% of millennials said having a mentor was crucial to their success. A mentorship program will allow both younger and older generations to collaborate on projects and learn from each other’s working styles. This program will also create a circumstance where a young achiever can benefit from the wisdom that an established colleague will have in the industry.
“Combine the energy and speed of youth with the wisdom and experience of age will make sure everyone feels valued for contribution” - John Montgomery on the WWP Podcast
3) Encourage a healthy work-life balance
The younger and older generations may have different opinions on the importance of work-life balance. Older generations often believe that a work-life balance is something that is earned over the course of your career after years of hard work. In contrast, the younger generations believe that a work-life balance is vital for mental health. They also believe that this balance should and can be maintainable throughout one’s career without it hindering their productivity or the organization's success.
With the growing trend for a healthy work-life balance, employers are having to adapt to what a healthy environment looks like for employees. There are many ways organizations can support a healthy work-life balance like allowing for remote/ flexible working options. In fact, 80% of Millennials said they would be more loyal to an employer offering flexible work options. Importantly, work-life balance directly influences productivity for employees. More than 60% of 18-34-year olds said their productivity at work suffers due to stress over a poor work-life balance of unrealistic professional demands. Managers should talk with their direct reports often to see how their work-life balance can be adjusted to maximize productivity.
4) Offer frequent 360-feedback
As more Millennials and Generation Z enter the workforce, constant feedback will help create a honest and positive company culture, and it is something that these younger generations want. Continuous feedback also helps employees improve their performance. Feedback is directly related to employee engagement as it allows them to take responsibility of their development and careers. 44% of millennials say they are more likely to be engaged when their managers hold regular meetings with them, and 66% of Generation Z said they appreciated feedback at least every few weeks to stay at a job.
Your organization should also encourage 360-feedback, which means feedback can and should be given by anyone - managers, peers, or direct reports. There should be regular check-in on employees by managers, and simultaneously, employees should feel comfortable enough to talk to managers or peers about any concerns or questions they have regarding their obligations. Remember that feedback is a two-way communication conversation and when done effectively, it can be a powerful motivator for employees.
Let us know what makes you feel engaged in the workplace!
If you enjoyed this blog - check out our Working with People podcast to learn more about harnessing the energy of youth in the workplace!