How to Better Engage Millennials for a Generation “We” in the Workplace

75 of every 100 of your co-workers will be a Millennial within the next five years.

Praise-hungry, lazy, entitled, unloyal, and far too demanding job hoppers – guess who?

Ding ding ding! Millennials. Aka “The Me Me Me Generation.”

Yes, they have flaws, but doesn’t every generation?

I’m not here to deny the extensive list of stereotypes. Because the truth is: some of them are probably true!

As a recent grad entering the workforce, the bad rap Millennials get is inevitable. The labels I just mentioned are only a few of the many names associated with the generation.

Who run the world? Millennials. Let the facts speak for themselves:

Depending on who you ask, Millennials are young adults born between the years of 1981 and 1996. Maybe it’s the staggering population size of the generation that puts them in the spotlight – but shouldn’t that be even more reason society must come to terms with reality?

By reality I mean that, by 2025, Millennials will make up over 75% of the workforce. Yep, 75 of every 100 of your co-workers will be a Millennial within the next five years.

So move over, Negative Nancy. It’s time to face reality and make light of what’s to come.

What can Millennials bring to the table?

A passionate perspective

One of the biggest differences between Millennials and previous generations is their willingness to self-sacrifice in order to pursue their passions.

The bottom line is that Millennials will not settle for mediocrity – at least not long-term.

What they are willing to settle for is an average job on the side with so-so pay while on the hunt for the perfect match.

(Probably where the job hopper stereotype comes from.)

And,“it’s this desire to match personal values with work that marks out Generation Y.”

Work to live

What does that mean?

Millennials emphasize a career with work-life balance. Which (generally) means greater employee satisfaction – across the board.

….Which leads to employee longevity. Which leads to a happier “Me Me Me,” and a happier you.

Oh, and a whole lot of extra dough for your company’s bottom line.

Truth: on average, losing an employee costs an employer 33% of that workers’ annual salary to replace. A $50,000 annual salary would cost the company $16,500. (But like, who’s counting?)

The refreshing reality is, Millenials have a firm grasp on what it means to live a balanced life – which is often overlooked in previous generations. We all could use a reminder every once in a while.

And seeing your Millennial coworker living their #BestLife will probably have a ripple effect on you, too.

Primed to do well by doing good

It’s arguably the most promising quality about Millennials.

In general, society becomes a better place when people have the courage to stand up for what they believe in.

Basically, Millennials are fearless when it comes to staying true to their values.

…But really – “Almost 70% say that giving back and being civically engaged are their highest priorities.”

FOMO (Fear of Missing Out) on this generation’s value? Try this at work…

I think it’s fair to say that what Millennials look for in the workplace, goes hand in hand with what they value.

So, why does this matter?

Companies can no longer just talk the talk – they need to walk the walk.

It’s one thing to recognize the changes that are taking place in the workforce. But to take action and implement change is a whole different ball game. One word: Innovation.

“If leaders and talent managers are going to meet Millennials where they are, they’re likely going to have to do it in a new way.” (Say it louder for the people in the back!)

Tip #1: Pay It Forward

For a generation whose vast majority prioritizes social good over financial stability, the nickname “Generation Me Me Me” is pretty ironic. “Generation We” sounds more like it. (All sappiness intended).

So be good by doing good. Or Millennials will go elsewhere. (Think: your biggest competitors.)

After all, the best and most successful companies to date are the ones that have not only passion, but purpose. They give back.

It’s a win-win here. Companies get the talent, diversity, and employee retention of the largest sector in the workforce. You save thousands of dollars in overhead (remember that $16,500 average employee replacement cost?) Not to mention – far better employee satisfaction, word of mouth, company growth…the list goes on.

The result?  Millennials get the satisfaction and fulfillment they’ve been searching for through social impact.

Tip #2: Be a Student and a Teacher

If there’s one thing you should take away from this blog, it’s this: “Becoming a student of Millennials’ value systems may be one way leaders stand a chance to engage them.”

Read that again.

If you want to optimize your Millennials’ retention, study them. Understand their learning styles. Be sensitive to their differences.

Give them guidance, but also freedom. Give them the responsibility to get from A to B, but let them decide how to get there. Really take the time to show them the ropes.

(Note: the grass is greener where you water it.)

Despite what might be word on the street, there is power in a simple shift of perspective.

So, grab your coolest shades because the future’s looking pretty bright.