It's no secret that the business world is being taken over by millennials; in a few short years, they'll make up 75 percent of the workforce. Which means that, as an employer, you'll need to spend some time thinking about how to engage this tech-savvy group. A highly studied generation that was practically born knowing how to navigate the internet.
Encouraging employee engagement at work used to be about fat-cat bonuses and hefty pay raises. While money is still a motivational factor for most, it's not the only one and it doesn't guarantee job satisfaction or engagement. If you want to get more productivity out of your workers and keep them motivated, you're going to have to get innovative.
Give them flexibility and trust
With a wealth of knowledge at their fingertips, millennials are informed and know about their options. Maybe they remember their Mom or Dad coming home late after a brutal commute through a congested city, or seeing inspiring messages from billionaires like Jeff Bezos, telling them they don't have to burn out to succeed.
That doesn't mean they aren't ambitious though, not by a long shot. But it does mean that fairly simple gestures and actions can speak volumes to this group. So, try offering your millennial workers flexibility with their time. Instead of dictating when they can use their vacation, let them take a day off on their birthday, visit a friend in hospital, or recover properly from a cold.
The relationship between happiness and productivity is high. Happy workers take an average of 66 percent less sick days per year. Which means that simple policies like flex time can dramatically increase engagement. If your employees know you have their back, they'll be more likely to go the extra mile for your company.
The same can be said with showing trust. Millennials have grown up watching success stories like Facebook, Instagram, and Uber explode out of almost nowhere. They don't envision their futures being part of a large conglomerate, or feeling like a cog in the wheel. They want to be a part of a hungry startup that's going somewhere and get a taste for real innovation and creativity. So, trust them with big projects and let them take the lead.
Cutting-edge training tools
Another way to encourage engagement at work is by offering relevant and valuable on-the-job training. Especially when it comes to skills that can be transported to another role, or help employees to improve both professionally and personally. But if you're thinking of compiling a Word document, think again. Throw your training manual out the window!
The key to capturing the attention of Gen-Y is through cutting-edge emerging training methodologies. The kind that will appeal to and resonate with millennials. The American Psychological Association (APA) found that millennials perform better outside of formal settings and using tools that they can apply to real life situations, such as video, mobile, and gamification.
The millennial generation is often referred to as one of "digital natives." This basically means that they grew up with access to WIFI and parents who knew how to handle a computer. They're far more likely to get engaged with their job position if you present them ongoing training through audiovisual means.
A recent study on millennial behavior showed that video clips were one of the most effective ways of teaching concepts and showing knowledge applied to real life situations. Videos also engaging and fun. The kind of hands-on approach that keeps millennial employees entertained, while catering to their learning needs.
With the plethora of social media, SnapChat, Instagram, and Facebook, millennials love feeling connected and readily post about their lives online. They also look for jobs this way and find out about more information about your company through social learning. They'll check out your reviews, what other employees have to say, and maybe even contact current employees on LinkedIn. They have a different way of trusting that places more credibility on peer reviews than highly regarding publications.
Brian Greenberg, founder of True Blue Life Insurance frequently finds that millennials on his team found his company through a Google search or social media platform. He says: "Time and time again, I'm amazed at how this generation finds things and how they spend their money... It's interesting to see where their priorities lie."
Think about how that applies to training. When a millennial has a problem with a computer program or needs help putting a piece of furniture together, they'll look for a solution on a YouTube. They'll find a short video explanation, rate it, and pass it on. This type of learning actually has a name, and is known as collaborative learning. Shared among peers who provide feedback and advice.
Forget about lengthy training sessions and lectures. Millennials are smart and digitally switched on, but they also have shorter attention spans than their predecessors. This has brought rise to a new kind of learning, called micro-learning, that aims to break down important points into bite-sized, easily digestible pieces.
Provide the information that they need, when they need it (just think about the YouTube videos) without them having to spend long periods studying or taking time out of work. Reduce your training sessions to informative whiteboards and short videos. Moz's Whiteboard Friday is picking up acclaim and interest with digital marketers across the web, as they offer key information in an easy to use format.
Okay, so not all your millennial employees are going to jump at the chance of learning through videogames. But don't disregard this new form of training. The competitive nature of video games makes them addictive and highly engaging, which can be a good fit for some millennials. Popular BI tool Inside Sales, makes use of gamification techniques that have proven effective among sales teams.
According to study by Pew Research, 57 percent of people between the ages of 18 and 34 play video games at least three times a week. So, consider whether this could be a good fit for your company or not, and what kind of culture you have.
Employees who receive mentoring are five times more likely to get promoted than those who don't, according to research by Sun Microsystems. We've seen the rise of tech incubators over the last few years and world famous entrepreneurs mentoring others, including Bill Gates and Richard Branson.
Mentoring is a key factor in keeping employees engaged. They want to perform better and do well, get regular feedback and suggestions. This can be done face-to-face or through videos. Feeback videos can be just as engaging as one-on-one meetings and help reduce time, giving your employees the chance to learn on the job when they have a free moment.
Innovating employee engagement doesn't have to be restricted by your budget. It's more about understanding your target audience and applying training methods and policies that resonate with their way of thinking. Create a supportive environment in which they can grow, take time out when needed and lead projects, with regular mentoring and feedback. And make use of tools to make learning as fun and accessible as possible.