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Engaging Millennial Stars

Written by: on  September 19, 2016

“71% of the Millennial workforce saying they’re either not engaged, or actively disengaged in the workforce today” – Recent Gallup ReportHow Millennials Want to Work and Live

Compared to the other generations there are actually fewer who are actively disengaged (16%) So 55% are in that middle group – just ‘not engaged’ and they’re turning up every day at work saying ‘show me’.

Not surprisingly ‘meaning & purpose’ topped the list. My experience working with young people is that they want to work for purpose-driven organizations, but also want to feel a connection to individual purpose and a sense of journey. They want to feel they can develop and move forward.

I’ve had the greatest pleasure working with Millennials and helping them to connect with visions of their success. I’m always told that they feel life is so fast, and they’re dealing with so much information that they rarely have the opportunity to take a step back and really explore what really matters to them, and what their success could look like.

Also from the report, opportunities to learn and grow is the number one most important thing to Millennials when they’re looking for job opportunities. 68% of them who’ve had opportunities to learn and grow with their current company plan to stay there another year, and 87% consider opportunities to learn and grow the most important aspect in looking at jobs.

Only 39% consider they’ve learnt something new, and slightly less than 1 in 2 believe they’ve had the opportunity to learn and grow in the past year. Only 1 in 3 who had the opportunity to learn and grow felt it was worth their time.

93% said the last time they changed roles they had to leave their employer, so it’s critical for employers help their Millennials understand that they don’t need to go somewhere else to keep developing.


Millennials are not Job Hoppers…

…if they’re engaged in the right ways, but there is a danger that employers will lose them if they don’t actively address the engagement issue.

Katie Pink

Katie Pink

I’ve recently been working with Katie Pink from specialist Pharmaceutical recruiter Cranleigh Scientific. About 2 years ago we started working together on connecting her with a vision of her success, and we did this by projecting her to a successful point in the future using a vision board. She was then able to see clearly what mattered to her, and with the support of her Directors she was able to set some goals and KPIs for herself. They in turn were very supportive by creating an ‘intrapreneurial’ environment for her to do her job well, and made themselves accessible to her on the journey.

According to Gallup, 72% of Millennials who said their managers help them set performance goals are engaged, so they want to be clear about expectations, and they want to work collaboratively so they can own those expectations. They’re saying ‘don’t make me guess’ and ‘inspire me with what great looks like. Tell me who are the great performers’.

They want to understand what they do well, and what comes naturally to them, and to work out how to best achieve their goals using their strengths. They want to understand themselves so they can do great work.

Recently Katie got back in touch and told me she’d finally achieved the last couple of things on her vision board and was now ready for her next challenge. I knew immediately that unless she was inspired again with a new vision, there was a danger she’d start to feel she was going backwards, and this is precisely the time she could have started exploring opportunities elsewhere. Often managers can be oblivious to this and just assume that their staff are happy and motivated.

With a new vision board completed and renewed motivation, Katie’s looking forward to the new challenges and journey ahead.


Millennials are not Job Hoppers if they’re engaged in the right ways – but there is a danger that employers will lose them if they don’t actively address the engagement issue.

6 in 10 are open to other job opportunities and plan to be with another employer 1 year from now.



6 functional changes

[change 1] Millennials don’t just work for a paycheck – they want a purpose

Work must have meaning – they want organizations with a mission & purpose.


[change 2] Millennials aren’t pursuing job satisfaction – they’re pursuing development

They’re not that fussed about the bells and whistles – they want purpose & development.


[change 3] Millennials don’t want bosses – they want coaches

They want bosses who will help them understand & build their strengths.


[change 4] Millennials don’t want annual reviews – they want conversations

They’re accustomed to constant communication & feedback, and want regular feedback, but don’t often ask for it – managers need to be more proactive with it.

They’ve grown up with continuous feedback in real time. Only 19% said they receive regular feedback and fewer say that was meaningful. Although only 15% agree they routinely ask for it, only 33% say they’ve told their manager what they need most to get their work done and why.

Millennials who are given regular feedback in the workplace are 2.2 times likely to be more engaged in the workforce. It can be email or text – it’s about the frequency of feedback.

Engagement is highest when they meet managers at least once a week – 56% meet their managers less than once a month and only 21% meet their managers on a weekly basis. Daily connects are ideal with quick texts and emails, not necessarily face to face meetings.


[change 5] Millennials don’t want to fix their weaknesses – they want to develop their strengths

Organisations need to maximise the strengths of their Millennials otherwise they won’t attract and keep their stars

Only 28% strongly agree that their manager’s focus on their strengths, but 70% say they’re engaged when their managers focus on their strengths


[change 6] It’s not just a job – It’s my life

Does this organization value my strengths? & and does it help me to do great work every day? – because it’s my life

Maybe it’s time now to address the engagement issue as it could become a very expensive problem, especially as the Millennials are expected to make up 75% of the workforce by 2025.

Airbnb’s Mark Levy, Head of Employee Experience said that their roadmap for development and internal mobility includes a programme called ‘Explorers’, where managers can offer up a 1-3 month assignment, in which employees with more than 2 years of tenure can try out something different – in another function or country.

This is a very good idea to engage and retain your Star Millennials.


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