The Millennial Mess: Fable. Fiction. Fantasy.
Millennials are just the worst. It’s all over the media. Born between 1980 and 2000, they won’t leave their parent’s house. They job hop. They are strapped with debt. They are entitled. They are self-absorbed. In my opinion, these are sweeping generalizations. There are people like this in every generation. However, there are a few things that we know are true about Millennials and Employee Engagement.
o Millennials are people just like us; however, they are more vocal.
In my book, I layout a single four-step strategy to re-engage employees. People ask me how can there be just one strategy to engage employees since everyone is different. My response? Everyone is not different. At the end of the day, all employees are human beings and all human beings are people. For the most part, what motivates and inspires you, motivates and inspires me. What deflates and discourages you, deflates and discourages me.
At the core, Millennials are us. Where they differ as people is that in general, they are more vocal. They have courage and they speak up. Unfortunately, a lot of people can’t handle the truth. However, I applaud Millennials for being vocal. You always know exactly where they stand and if there’s something about the culture that is not working, you can count on them to point it out so you can address it. Open and honest communication is our friend, not our enemy. I believe that if senior leaders were more open and honest with employees, we would not have a global employee disengagement crisis on our hands.
o Millennials refuse to be a cog in the wheel; if they don’t find meaning at work, they’ll quit.
Daniel Pink, business strategist and author, says, “People are not motivated by external rewards. They are motivated by the deeply human need to do better for themselves and the world.” This reality holds true for all of your employees and especially for younger people. Millennials want to change the world and work for a company that has meaning.
Therefore, define your company values, live eat and breathe your values, and hire Millennials who possess those values. It’s also imperative that every employee have personal goals that align with the CEO’s goals. When a person’s values and goals align with a company’s values and goals, they feel like what they do every day matters.
If Millennials don’t think they are making a difference, unlike generations before them, they’ll resign. I give them a lot of credit for this. Billions of employees go to work every day and are miserable thanks to their company culture and a lack of alignment, and that’s no way to live.
In conclusion, the key that opens the door to engaging Millennials is the same key that opens the door to engaging all of your employees:
- Hire people whose values align with your company’s values.
- Ensure that a person’s individual goals align with the CEO’s goals.
- Communicate openly and honestly with people, and ask for their input.
- Recognize people in a way that’s timely, sincere and specific.
Millennials are not the worst; they simply refuse to work in a business environment that isn’t extraordinary and where they can’t be the best version of themselves every day. And for that, I applaud them. My greatest hope is that Millennials are the wake-up call that senior leaders need, so they address the rampant dysfunction that’s happening in our business world today.