Millennials –also known as Gen Y- are reshaping today’s workplace and will continue to do so over the next couple of decades, bringing about new perspectives to solve business problems.
As a result, businesses will need to implement strategies to engage Gen Y employees and ensure they are satisfied, happy and challenged at work.
Deb LaMere, Vice President of Employee Engagement, Ceridian offers these thoughts:
Priority # 1 for Millennial Engagement: Career Management
Contrary to popular belief, not all millennials are preparing to leave their organization after a short spurt of 2-3 years. Career planning and performance discussions can have a far-reaching positive impact on employee engagement and retention.
If an opportunity exists to move around and gain new experiences within a company, then there is a good chance that Gen Y employees will stay and contribute rather than seek out new challenges elsewhere.
Organizational transparency in terms of clear communication on company direction and career opportunities can positively influence employee retention efforts.
To encourage new career opportunities and hiring from within, organizations – no matter their size - should:
- Develop formal career pathing programs consisting of thought-out materials and resources that give employees a view of their current job and how their skills - whether traditionally or laterally within a department or function – match-up with other areas of the organization.
- Formal career pathing programs allow employees of any generation to navigate through various roles and get connected to different departments, while giving both parties (employee and employer) a better sense of the opportunities and training needed to get there.
- Guide Gen Y employees towards new learning opportunities within their current organization encourages them to stay and remain engaged, interested and above all committed to helping the company achieve success.
Secondly, apart from career pathing programs organizations need to move away from the notion of “performance management” and more towards “performance development”:
- Performance development discussions should be frequent, two-way in nature and focused around meaningful career goals.
- Organizations may benefit from creating and providing performance development discussion guidelines to both employees and managers.
- Guidelines can lay the groundwork for constructive and productive conversations centered around the types of support managers can offer employees to overcome barriers, get back on track and/or reach their goal.
- Performance development guidelines can also give employees fodder to think about their accomplishments, how they got to where they are and how they would like their manager to support them on their career journey.
Priority #2 for Millennial Engagement: Motivate With Incentives
When it comes to workplace benefits most employees want a standardized benefits plan. However, when it comes to being recognized and rewarded for a job well done, cash is not necessarily “king” – especially amongst Gen Y.
- Managers need to understand how their millennial employees want to be rewarded.
- Some employees may prefer tangible rewards rather than a check.
- A non-monetary reward could be tickets to an event; a gift certificate to a local restaurant; discounts on a health club membership or the latest technology gadget.
To “get rewards right” employers should take the time to speak to – or survey - their employees and gain a better understanding of the types of rewards each generation prefers. Rewards need to be appreciated to be truly rewarding. With more attention to Gen Y preferences, smaller employers can afford to tailor rewards to employee preferences, without breaking the bank.
One Final Thought: The Cost of Millennial Disengagement
Investments in career pathing programs, performance development guidelines and reward incentives might seem unnecessary, however it’s in the best interest of the employer to keep the Gen Y employee happy and engaged. The cost of employee turnover and recruiting is high. To thrive and remain relevant organizations need to keep harnessing the energy, ideas and fresh perspective of Gen Y while preparing to groom them into the star employees and leaders.