Five Ways to Engage and Retain Millennial Employees


Millennials are the next generation of leaders and CEO’s in the workplace. An integral part of the future landscape of our organisations, we must consider how best to harness the energy, passion and expectations of millennials, as they move into leadership positions and become the largest active generation in the working population.  

Millennials have such a unique opportunity to be an incredible asset to any team or organisation. They possess a myriad of unique attributes that previous generations don’t have. This isn’t to deny or discredit the learnt skills of decades of experiences that other generations have acquired, they are just different and more relevant to today’s digital landscape. 

In order to engage and retain millennial employees, here are 5 important considerations for millennials and how to act on these as a business to combine new and old ways of working. 

The New Normal: Social Media 

Millennials are SOCIAL! With the rise of digital and social media in the early 2000’s, it has been a constant presence in their lives. The purpose of social media is to connect, engage and build relationships. Social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and a host of others, drive specific behaviour that millennials have adopted and subsequently have become known for. It is a place where they show their best side, put their best foot forward and showcase a better version of themselves. Posting on social media in this way has become the new normal, which can come across as unusual to older generations. 

This way of thinking can be translated into your team and organisation. Corporate Edge uses a digital platform called Teamphoria to communicate and praise team members and co-workers on excellent work. Putting the organisations best foot forward, demonstrates a company’s willingness to integrate these social ways of working, linking into our next point. Harvard Business Review published a study that found that “employees who engage in online social interactions with co-workers through social media blogs tend to be more motivated and come up with innovative ideas.” 

Casual Culture, Feedback and Transparency 

There is no denying that the workplace is changing. Culture is becoming an important criterion for employees and leaders alike. It improves productivity, job satisfaction, efficiency and has an immeasurable flow on effect company wide. 

Traditionally, workplaces are formal, structured, process focused and typically command and control. The internet has drastically changed this way of working thanks to a new culture around hyper feedback. Individuals are used to others commenting and validating their actions instantly. 

Feedback has become a two-way street. It is no longer only negative criticism, but honest, transparent and in-the-moment feedback to aid their development and progress. Millennials are just as willing to accept feedback as giving it. 

Today, employees expect feedback and recognition. It is this open communication that millennials seek as a way of targeting development and rapid improvement. Engaging employees with a transparent communication strategy helps them to feel included in the bigger picture, allowing them to get behind the company and fuse their identity with it. 

Work/life Balance 

Millennials don’t just want a job. They aren’t necessarily interested in the rigidity of a traditional 9-5 with little to no flexibility. The entire concept of ‘work’ is evolving and becoming more flexible. According to the PwC study in 2011 (source), a work/life balance has been a consistent priority for this generation backed by the 95% of respondents that stated a work/life balance is important to them, with 70% saying it’s very important. 

The capacity to attract, retain and manage millennial talent is irrespective of the compensation package. It is heavily focused on the offerings of the company related to long-term relationships, professional development opportunities and a sense of belonging to an organisation that they can align their personal values with. This aids in the work/life balance that employers are increasingly promoting as a benefit (especially now, during a global pandemic). 

A common misconception is that millennials are afraid of working hard. This isn’t the case. The rise of a work/life balance lends itself to a greater opportunity of working on their own terms. They expect to work hard but reject traditional methods, like sitting in a cubicle sectioned off from their co-workers. They are drawn to companies offering an engaging and stimulating atmosphere that blends work and life seamlessly. 

Financial Gain Takes a Back Seat 

As a generation, the millennial group are less tied to financial gain than they are more committed to upskilling, to their personal learning and development. They are increasingly attracted to employers who are offering more than just a good wage. 

A work/life balance and personal and professional development are more attractive qualities in a job opportunity than financial rewards. The PwC ranks the benefits for millennials. 

  1. Personal learning and development 
  2. Flexible working hours and a work/life balance 
  3. Cash bonuses 

Although money isn’t everything, it is still incredibly important – “44% of those questioned, said that competitive wages make an employer more attractive.” (PWC source

The only factor trumping personal learning and development is the opportunity for career progression. 52% said this was the main factor when considering potential prospects, proving the drive, ambition and optimism of the millennial generation. 

EQ Over IQ 

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is taking precedence over IQ in many facets of our lives, and increasingly even in our workplaces. The skills needed in the workforce are going to transition from IQ to EQ, due to the immediate availability of knowledge through our devices.  

Millennials are looking for compassion, emotional understanding and a clear company mission statement that they can align their personal brand with. It is less about intelligence, but more about emotional connections, culture and a safe environment to work in. 

Constant change is inevitable and as an organisation, we must adapt to new behaviours and new ways of working for continued success. The realisation that every generation is different, will help anyone to realise the power and potential of harnessing all generations abilities, strengths and weaknesses to combine and create a well-rounded, capable team.


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