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Engaging Millennials and Gen Z in The Workplace

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Over the last decade and a half, we’ve all been exposed to the following idea: Millennials and Gen Z are different from previous generations. They don’t expect to stay long at your company, and therefore you shouldn’t expect them to do so either. Or is there another way out?

Job-hopping has become a common currency among Millennials and Gen Z. Thus, we usually – and mistakenly – come up with the conclusion that they either can’t find satisfaction in their professional pursuits or simply don’t want to work. However, at Avature, we take a different approach. Our experience has taught us that organizations are not adapting correctly to prevent Millennials from changing jobs.

With the rise of the digital age and external events such as the 2020 pandemic, the generational gap has broadened. As long as organizations fail to offer what Millennials and Gen Z employees expect from them, job-hopping will continue to be a fact.

Job Tenure Among Millennials and Gen Z

The US Bureau of Labor Statistics has reported that Americans aren’t staying as long with employers as they did back in the early 1980s. In rough numbers, six out of ten Millennial employees are currently open to new job opportunities. From this, we can infer that these younger generations of employees are struggling to find a workplace that suits their expectations and are, thus, looking for a new place to work. 

This fact takes us to two major concerns. 

First, why should organizations prioritize Millennial engagement? In a word, the “bottom line.”  According to recent research, Millennials and Gen Z turnover costs the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually. This is especially concerning, considering these two generations are soon to account for the majority of the active workforce.

Second, there’s another essential question we need to ask ourselves: what do Millennials want in the workplace? As generations are not strictly homogeneous, this may seem like a complicated question to answer. And yet, there are certain generational patterns we can identify that will help us improve Millennial and Gen Z workforce engagement. 

What Matters to Millennials and Gen Z at Work?

To better understand what Millennial and Gen Z employees want in the workplace, we first need to understand that they don’t see organizations in the same way as previous generations did. Most were born in a digital environment – i.e., a world where they can interact with anyone instantly regardless of language, culture or location. 

Accordingly, one of the things Millennial and Gen Z employees want in the workplace is the possibility to be part of a community. Effective communication between peers and with superiors is key. Organizations need to provide these workers with a voice that they can use to disrupt and express their ideas and preferences. Essentially, their opinions need to be attended to, shared and taken into account.

Another important aspect of the digital age that transmits to Millennial and Gen Z job expectations is the notion of constant progress and change. Today, we live in an ever-changing business and social environment. As a result, organizations are in the process of never-ending evolution as they strive to engage with both internal and external candidate markets.

The younger workforce is accustomed to the reality of constant change and stimulation. Thus, something that matters to them at work is the possibility of evolution and development. If they can’t find the growth they need within a company, they will look for it elsewhere. The result? Job-hopping. 

This takes us to an important and defining characteristic of the new workforce: training and performance management. As fast-learning generations, Millennial and Gen Z workers can rapidly acquire new skills if the right guidance is provided. They expect learning and development to be a core tenet of their employment experience. Organizations that fail in this respect will find it difficult to retain this demographic.

How to Engage Millennials in The Workplace?

Now that we know why Millennials and Gen Z change jobs, how can organizations transform these expectations into a competitive advantage? The digital era, the 2020 pandemic and the ubiquitous nature of remote work in many places provide us with a clear answer: organizations need to adapt. 

While adapting may bring to mind agile technology, it really means investing in your talent. By understanding and satisfying what future – and current – generations expect from their workplace, you will prevent them from considering a job change. As a plus, skills, learning and employee development are also known to be closely related to employee engagement.

Here are some tips that will help you invest in your Millennial and Gen Z employees:

  • Create a community within your workplace. A great way to provide your employees with a voice is by creating a community-based work experience. You can start with an agile new hire onboarding software that connects your new hires with your workforce prior to day one. Next, focus on developing a digitally-based social environment. The latter will empower your employees to interact with peers and superiors while also creating a sense of belonging.
  • Adopt a strong internal mobility structure. Letting your employees know that there are always opportunities for change and development is a great way to improve workforce buy-in. Look to develop a robust internal mobility framework. This will empower your workforce to reach their full potential as you develop a culture of learning and development.
  • Improve your organization’s performance management strategy. As an employer, you want to know what your employees expect from you. Agile goal setting and 360-degree feedback will help them understand what your organization expects in return as they develop professionally. Look to adopt a continuous performance management workflow. This will motivate Millennial and Gen Z employees and give them more control over their career growth.

To Conclude…

Job-hopping is a reality among Millennial and Gen Z employees. However, there are various ways to prevent it from happening. Through a comprehensive understanding of their demands and expectations, you can develop an engaging and rewarding experience that will encourage these employees to stay and grow with your company. 

Start by creating an employee-led workforce community. Next, focus on developing your internal mobility and up-skilling strategies. Finally, look to improve your organization’s performance management framework. This three-prong approach will improve engagement, drive workforce buy-in and provide an excellent opportunity for your business to save not only money but also talent.

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