To recruit and retain the youngest generation in the workforce, it used to be that once an employee was hired they paid their dues and they climbed the corporate ladder. But the world has changed. Even the phrase "paying your dues" is outdated. What does it take to keep today's Millennials engaged, focused and committed? It's your job as a manager to find out. 

Manager Makeover: Tips to keep Millennials engaged

To recruit and retain the youngest generation in the workforce, it used to be that once an employee was hired they paid their dues and they climbed the corporate ladder. But the world has changed. Even the phrase "paying your dues" is outdated. What does it take to keep today's Millennials engaged, focused and committed? It's your job as a manager to find out.

 

What Millennials want
Millennials, or Gen Yers as they are sometimes called, are people born from about 1980 through 2000. They're the largest generation in U.S. history, and the first to come of age in the new millennium. They're "confident, connected, open to change," according to a 2010 Pew Research Center report, "Millennials: A Portrait of Generation Next." It's predicted that Millennials will have a higher average level of education than any previous generation, and that they'll switch careers or change employers more often than older workers did. They may also demand more from their employers than any generation before them. They want to work for organizations that respect individual differences, promote work-life balance, pay well, and are socially responsible. That's a tall order, and it's yours to fill if you hope to attract and retain today's newest workers.

 

Four ways to build Millennial engagement
Here are four tips:

  1. Be a "generation friendly" manager. Experts use this term to describe managers who are aware of and inclusive of generational differences and who adapt their management style to individuals' needs. One way to be a generation friendly manager is to show every employee you manage that everyone's opinion matters and counts, from your most senior staff to the youngest members of your team.
  2. Provide opportunities for learning, coaching, mentoring and skill development. These are all key drivers of engagement, especially for today's youngest workers. Encourage mentorship opportunities, both formal and informal. Encourage people of every age group to sign up for trainings, workshops and courses. Offer opportunities for temporary assignments, shadowing, and working with others with different skill sets. "What people want to learn at work is what they need to know to do their job well, and what they need to learn to be able to move into the next position," says Jennifer Deal, Ph.D., author of Retiring the Generation Gap: How Employees Young and Old Can Find Common Ground
  3. Foster flexibility. While it may not be possible in all organizations or for all individuals, the more support you're able to provide in this area, the better. That might mean allowing an employee to have schedule flexibility, or to work from home one day a week if the job allows. When you are flexible as a manager, employees are more willing to go the extra mile, and you're likely to see higher levels of engagement.
  4. Recognize and reward. Make rewards and recognition personal. Set aside time to give praise or to reward individual employees and the team. When you hear that an employee has done a great job, call him or her and offer your thanks and praise, or leave a personal voicemail message. Reward employees with work they would really like to do -- with stretch assignments, with work that's exciting, critical to the company, or good for the employee's career.

Finally, get to know the youngest generation in your workforce. Find out what keeps them engaged. The latest Pew survey found that older Millennials with full-time jobs "may just be the happiest workers in America." Who wouldn't want to keep employees like that?