Keeping Millennials Engaged

9/8/2015

Millennials, those born roughly between 1981 and 1999, are the world’s next generation of leaders. So where are these future executives cutting their teeth? According to Development Dimensions International’s (DDI) 2015 Global Leadership Forecast, Millennials are attracted to aggressive-growth organizations, such as those in the high-tech industry. While companies that are cautious-growth and low-growth have 25 and 21 percent Millennial leadership, respectively, around 30 percent of the leadership of aggressive-growth organizations is made up of Millennials.

However, there are unique challenges that come with having a younger leadership. Millennials tend to be less engaged with their jobs and organizations than those from older generations, and they are more likely to leave a company within a year of working there than their Generation X colleagues.

Millennials are also less likely to give feedback to their senior leaders about the organization’s strategy and culture, the organization’s communications about specific behaviors and work-life balance.

So what should senior leadership at Millennial-rich companies do to engage with their future leaders? Find ways that speak best to them. While Millennials do respond to traditional programs such as formal development workshops and training courses, they prefer social learning, that is, through the use of social networks, wikis and blogs, which can be delivered via smartphones or tablets.

And because Millennials prefer to keep moving, at least in the early years of their careers, finding new work for them, new spaces and new titles within the company is a good way to keep them engaged to reduce the risk of them leaving. It is essential here to provide them with a clear idea of their career path and seek feedback from them on how their managers can be most effective. From the HR standpoint, offering Millennial employees flexible arrangements is a good way to increase their satisfaction with their work-life balance.

Nurturing the next generation of leaders means reaching out to them in ways that match their learning preferences and spur their development. It is an investment in the company’s – and its leadership’s – future.