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5 Ways to Improve Millennial and Gen Z Employee Engagement

Posted by Renee Goble on Jun 4, 2018 11:39:05 AM
Renee Goble

Did you know that less than half of all millennials and members of Gen Z feel connected to their jobs and more than 40% say they would make a change if another opportunity arose?

 As of 2016, Millennials are the largest population in the U.S. labor force (35% -- or one-third -- of the workforce), while Generation Zs -- the up-and-coming workforce -- make up 25% of the population. Millennials and Gen Zs are more willing to change a job if a better opportunity arises and 39% of them want to work in a collaborative, “in person” communication environment.

 It’s no surprise that generations think differently -- and technology has only helped widen this gap. We’ve probably all heard the discussions about the difference between the Baby Boomer generation and Millennials in the working world, but as more Millennials and Gen Z’s enter the workforce, that divide will only continue to grow and affect future business models.

 Add to this the unfortunate reality that Millennial turnover costs the U.S. economy $30.5 billion annually and businesses are presented with an interesting predicament: how do you tailor yourselves so that you are engaging with, and keeping, your younger employees?


Here are Five Ways to help retain your Millennial and GenZ employees:


Emphasize their importance in your workplace culture:

Relationships with coworkers and supervisors are instrumental factors when employees decide whether to stay at a particular place. Millennials and Gen Z’s typically want to be a part of something that is bigger than themselves -- they want to have input in creating and forming what a company values. So, if they don’t feel like their presence at your company is important, they’ll search for work-fulfillment elsewhere.

Culture also wields greater power in companies choosing to hire someone. I know of someone who, before being offered their job, was interviewed by every member of the prospecting team to make sure they would be a good cultural fit. Because work environment is nearly as important to up-and-coming workers as pay, cultivating an atmosphere that’s inclusive is going to help save you money in the long run, especially since work-life balance is important to millennials and inclusivity and equality are important factors to Gen Z’s.

How to: Ask your employees what matters to them, make sure they know you value their input, give them measurable ways to progress in your company and reaffirm that no idea is a bad one.


Close the employment wage gap:

According to a 2016 APA study, three-quarters of Millennials report money is a somewhat or very significant source of stress. Because of this, it isn’t any wonder that 62% of Millennials are more likely to say their loyalty to their company is influenced by how much the company cares about their financial well-being (as compared to Gen X (50%) and Baby Boomers (36%)).

While 78% of Millennials say it is more important to enjoy work than to make a lot of money, this statistic reflects more of an altruistic ideology rather than a Millennial’s economic reality. While they may want to enjoy their work (who doesn’t?), they won’t if financial stress is overwhelming. Because of the uncertain economic future, younger generations of workers are more concerned about making ends meet. In fact, while it used to be expected that children would out-earn their parents, there is now only a 50-50 chance that a millennial will out-earn their parents at the same age. In other words -- their net worth is falling behind that of older generations.

A recent survey also discovered that 72% of Millennials and 71% of Gen X’s are more likely than Baby Boomers (45%) to be attracted to a different company that cares more about their financial well-being. In other words, they want recognition confirmed by fair wages. So, if you want to keep them engaged (heck, if you just want to keep them), you’ll not only give them due verbal recognition -- you’ll put your money where your mouth is. 

How To: If a healthy work environment offers opportunities for increased pay, this will only increase the Millennial or Gen Z workers’ loyalty to, and engagement at, your company (which ultimately, affects your bottom line). This doesn’t mean you need to -- or should -- throw money at them unduly, but it might be a wise idea to take an interest in the economic outlook of your younger employees and establish programs that set them up to succeed financially. When Millennials and Gen Z’s see that you care about them as a whole person, they are more likely to engage with, and remain loyal to, your business.


Promote team events:  

Millennials and Gen Z’s grew up in an education system that fostered group activities and they’ve taken that method with them into the workplace. Many of them believe that they get more done when they work in a collaborative team environment. Because of that, it’s important to foster an environment where teamwork and camaraderie are encouraged.

How? Do group activities, have team lunches and survey team members to get a gauge on their contentment at your place of business.

To illustrate this with a story, our SurveyMe team just recently had an all-staff BBQ and boating day which ended with the majority of employees -- including the executive team -- spontaneously deciding to jump into the swimming pool after dinner. While jumping into a pool in your skinny jeans and tee-shirt may seem a bit crazy, that sort of fun spontaneity has a way of quickly bonding a team and creating some memorable moments.

While your business isn’t a daycare, promoting team camaraderie encourages company loyalty and suggests that everyone is either a part of the company’s decline or success.

How To: Want to grow as a team? Do things as a team. Plain and simple. Find out what your staff is interested in and then carve out time to actually do those things. You don’t have to spend a lot of money either -- a simple potluck, ping pong tournament, or escape room escapade, might be all it takes for your team to know they matter.

Team events will not only keep them engaged, it will also help cultivate your company’s culture by reiterating your employees’ value to your business.


Incorporate technology into your workplace:

According to a Randstad and Future Workplace study, younger generations want employers to incorporate social media into their daily routines and many of them are increasingly interested in integrating emerging technologies into the workplace. This isn’t really a surprise: Millennials are pioneers in the realm of technology and Gen Z’s are being called “digital natives.”

Technology is not only a part of their social lives, it’s integrated into school and university classrooms. Expecting them to suddenly transition out of an environment where technology was found in excess into one where its use is highly regulated, discouraged, or viewed skeptically is like asking a fish to stop swimming and start climbing trees. A recent Randstad study also found that 77% of tech-savvy companies have a culture where workers are open to concepts that challenge existing workplace practices, compared to 19% that have not implemented forward-thinking strategies.

How To: Use an employee survey to find out what your employee’s pain points are and see what technological options could help them do their jobs better and make their lives easier. As businesses become more network-oriented, equipping your employees with the technological tools they’ll need to succeed sets your business up for success and shows your employees that you want to work with their generation -- not against them. 


Promote Work-Life Balance:

According to a study by Boston University, the most important factors in Millennial workplace selection in order from most to least important were: career advancement, salary, benefits, work-life balance, and job security. Not only that, 59% of North American Millennials define work/life balance as “flexible work hours” -- which means, if you want to improve employee engagement and loyalty, you may need to be willing to slide on the 9-5 office schedule. While this may be the “traditional” way to run a business -- it’s not necessarily the most effective way any longer. 26% of Gen Z’s plan to work in at least 2 different countries over the course of their careers with 23% of Millennials estimating the same. For both groups, workplace flexibility was the most important benefit (19%) followed by good healthcare (17%).

Obviously, flex hours need to be weighed against the productivity and capability of your business, but -- by offering employees flexibility in their schedules, you are encouraging a work-life balance that will have both Millennials and Gen Z’s feeling valued, trusted and, arguably, less-stressed.

How-To: Offer your employees a generous paid-time-off package, present accrued flex-hour options, and provide resources and programs for mental and physical wellness.


Change is coming to the way executives run their organizations. Times change and companies need to change with it or be left behind. If you’re an employer who cares about the growth and well-being of your company, it is crucial that you take into consideration the up-and-coming workforce’s values and think about how the way they approach the world around them can be cultivated to further your company’s growth.

While generational gaps in communication and objectives may at times occur, if you can show your Millennial and Gen Z employees that you value their work input and their life outside of the office -- you’ll be a couple steps closer to creating loyal, engaged employees eager to help your business succeed.

Want to gauge how your current employees are doing, but not sure where to start? Contact one of our Client Experience Experts! They’re pretty much employee engagement gurus and they’d be happy to help you out.

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Topics: Employee Engagement

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