Top 7 Tips to Engage Millennial Workers

According to the Deloitte Millennial Survey 2016, “Businesses must adjust how they nurture loyalty among Millennials or risk losing a large percentage of their workforces. Here are some ways to do that.

Who are Millennials? Millennials were born between 1980 and 2000 and spend an average of two years at one job. The generation is known for its strong entrepreneurial mindset and digital prowess. Millennials will make up 75 percent of the U.S. workforce by 2025, with two-thirds expecting to leave their current jobs by 2020.

According to the Deloitte Millennial Survey 2016, “Businesses must adjust how they nurture loyalty among Millennials or risk losing a large percentage of their workforces.

But how?

1. A sense of purpose. Some 55 percent of millennial employees were influenced to take their job after discussing cause work in the interview. Nearly 90 percent of Millennials gravitate toward companies with pronounced corporate social responsibility (CSR) programs, and 86 percent would consider leaving if their employer’s CSR no longer met their expectations.

2. Learning and development (L&D). L&D opportunities include online training, speaking engagements, and mentor programs. It’s just as important to promote the programs as it is to plan them.

Millennials crave new ideas, coaching, mentoring, and development of leadership skills. Some 71 percent of those likely to leave in the next two years are unhappy with how their leadership skills are being developed. Some 68 percent of Millennials who plan to stay with their organization for 5-plus years have a mentor.

Star examples:

  • EY & Philips send Millennial employees around the globe to develop leadership skills
  • RetailMeNot Inc. includes Millennial employees in hiring decisions.

3. Advancement. Loyalty results when Millennials feel understood and supported in their ambitions to advance and become leaders.

Some 75 percent of Millennials who quit cite “lack of advancement opportunities” as a top reason. Only 28 percent of Millennials feel their organizations make “full use” of their skills, with 63 percent lamenting that their leadership skills are not being fully developed.

4. Communication. In a world of instant feedback, semi-annual reviews just don’t cut it. Millennials want feedback on their performance, and they want it now.

Millennials like to have their voices heard, and employee surveys are a great tool. Keep surveys short and sweet, with transparency and follow-through.

Recognition really matters for Millennials. Positive feedback increases their drive and determination, and improves performance. Recognition must be personal and sincere in order to resonate with Millennials.

5. Work/Life Balance. What Millennials most want is flexibility in where, when, and how they work. Some 75 percent of Millennial employees want to work remotely, compared to the 43 percent who currently do. Many would take a salary reduction, pass up a promotion, or move for better work/life balance. Some 66 percent of Millennials who quit their jobs cite “a boss who doesn’t allow flexibility” as a primary reason.

6. Culture. “For these young professionals, one of the very top considerations for applying for a job is the company’s work culture, involvement with causes, office environment, and attention to diversity and HR standards.” —Lindsay Gellman, The Wall Street Journal

Some 76 percent of Millennials report high levels of satisfaction in an inclusive, creative workplace, compared to 49 percent in a more authoritarian, formal environment.

Nearly 90 percent of companies cite “culture and engagement” as their top challenge, with nearly two-thirds of HR respondents updating their engagement and retention strategies.

Star examples:

  • IBM, Coca-Cola, and Visa relaxed office dress codes and organized councils of Millennial employees to offer feedback on things such as marketing campaigns and workplace policies.

7. Compensation. Some 78 percent of Millennials who quit their jobs cite “minimal wage growth” as a primary reason. “Carrot-and-stick” incentives may work in the short term, but can serve as a distraction when workers become more focused on the reward than the task at hand. Millennials feel that, in order for a business to be successful in the long term, it must prioritize people, products, and purpose as much as profit.

So, does all of this really make a difference?


Satisfaction with various aspects of working life directly impacts anticipated tenure.











Source: Deloitte Millennial Survey 2016

But you can’t keep them around forever. Should companies stop trying so hard to curtail the inevitable? “The Alliance,” a book co-written by LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman, promotes an employer-employee relationship based on shared expectations and openness around the possibility of the employee leaving.

“By talking openly about the fact that an employee might leave, you actually increase the likelihood that he or she will stay on,” says Ben Casnocha, “The Alliance” co-author and Hoffman’s former chief of staff.

Finally, when they do leave, stay engaged with them. The acceptance of boomerang employees (or rehires) is Forbes’ No. 1 Workplace Trend for 2016. Former employees also can be worth millions in referrals, business development, industry insights, mentoring, and new client leads. Keep them connected to your organization via a corporate alumni network.

Notes LinkedIn’s Hoffman, “An ex-employee will be more interested in returning if the company stayed in touch and maintained a rela­tionship in the interim.”

Liza Bennigson is the director of Business Development at KonnectAgain, providing companies with a platform for current and ex-employee engagement. For more information, visit:

Training magazine is the industry standard for professional development and news for training, human resources and business management professionals in all industries.