When employees are engaged, businesses can increase profitability, improve sales, improve output quality, slash absenteeism and minimise regretted attrition. However, driving engagement throughout the organisation can be tricky, since employees are unique individuals and, as such, aren’t all motivated by the same things.

Generational differences are becoming especially pronounced as millennials begin to make up an increasing proportion of the Australian workforce. Anecdotal evidence suggests that millennials are differently motivated than their gen X or baby boomer predecessors, and research shows that more than half (59%) of them are aggressively looking for their next job opportunity.

Given the high costs involved in finding, recruiting, training and retaining talented employees, businesses need to find ways to prevent millennial employees from thinking that the grass will be greener elsewhere.

For businesses to build loyalty among millennial employees, they need to invest in building engagement.
Engagement starts with strong leadership, which includes providing the coaching and training that millennials need to develop the skills that are important to them, as well as important to the organisation.

Leadership is a common theme among millennials, and the main reason many of them leave a job is because of a lack of opportunity to develop their leadership abilities, according to the fifth annual Global Millennials survey.
However, before rushing out and delivering leadership training and courses to millennial employees, it’s important for businesses to first measure the current levels of engagement in their organisation and identify key areas for improvement.

Annual surveys are valuable in that they provide a point-in-time snapshot of employee engagement levels across the organisation. While this is the basis for creating ‘Action Plans’ to address issues that are raised, it is not frequent enough for leaders to be proactive in driving engagement levels.

Organisations also need to be able to regularly measure and analyse ongoing engagement and sentiment across the year. Pulse surveys are an ideal way to achieve this because they are shorter, more targeted in subject and audience, and can be conducted as frequently as required to address employee engagement issues as they arise.

There are four key pieces of advice that can help business leaders work more effectively with millennials:

  1. Make it easy

    Like their intergenerational colleagues, millennials are more likely to deliver thoughtful and useful feedback when the process is easy.

    That means conducting shorter surveys with open-ended questions with selection boxes to simplify the process. The medium is also important: many millennials prefer a short SMS survey, or even pop-up boxes via the company’s intranet, to a lengthy email survey.

  2. Get lifecycle feedback

    Lifecycle feedback lets you identify trends in engagement throughout the employee’s time with the business, at all stages, from onboarding through to departure, rather than just once per year.

    This helps the business achieve a holistic view of the employee’s total experience with the organisation. Often, this insight will allow an organisation to identify employee experience issues early enough to prevent regretted attrition.

  3. Share and act on feedback

    Asking for feedback, then doing nothing about the results can significantly damage employee morale and, in most cases, can be worse than not asking for feedback in the first place.

    It’s important to ask for feedback in areas that you’re prepared to change so you can demonstrate to employees that their opinions will be heard and valued.

    This feedback needs to be made available to people managers through real-time, role-based reporting dashboards and to empower them to develop closed-loop action plans that make a difference.

  4. Show the value of loyalty and hard work

    Millennials tend to want fast advancement without understanding that career progression comes over time and because of strong performance.

    By demonstrating that loyalty and hard work are, in fact, rewarded with promotions and other incentives, you can help the millennials in your business understand how to achieve their desired career path without having to find a new job.

Millennials are, by definition, the future of any business. It’s therefore important to keep them engaged, challenged and interested, with opportunities to advance and develop.

It’s also important to show that demonstrating resilience and staying-power is crucial, so they need to stay in a role long enough to build up tenure and experience. Encouraging them to do so starts with understanding their employee experience and improving it in meaningful ways.