Why Millennials are Changing the Way Businesses Approach Employee Engagement

Guest post by David Mendlewicz, Co-Founder, Butterfly

Technological innovations are accelerating the rate of change in the labor force and will have a massive impact on the so-called “future of work.” Beyond conversations around globalization and the elimination of jobs via “machines,” there’s the immediate reality that Millennials have unseated Boomers as the largest generation in the U.S. workforce.

Millennials are the first generation of digital natives and they are are the first wave of workers to matriculate as part of the on-demand economy. For these reasons, human resources teams at corporations large and small face new challenge when it comes to attracting, developing and retaining top talent. Here are some reasons why.

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Tech-savvy Millennials expect a different type of engagement

Back in the day, it was perfectly acceptable for a company to conduct once-a-year performance reviews. These were customarily used as a time for managers and team members to reflect on objectives and performance. But for Millennials who live in a 140-character world, the questionnaires were often lengthy and seen as a necessary evil.

To address these shifts, some organizations have adopted a more always-on approach to performance reviews. While annual reviews are still used to determine salary adjustments and promotions, more and more companies are relying on technology to capture feedback more quickly. For example, my company, Butterfly, provides a mobile experience that allows managers to keep tabs on employee happiness and engagement via 30-second “pulse” surveys, administered once a week. Teams at companies like Coca-Cola, Ogilvy, Ticketmaster and Citi – the last of which we paired via SwitchPitch – are using the platform to help young managers develop their soft skills.

Millennials are more apt to “job hop” than previous generations

Many Millennials have grown accustomed to switching employers every couple of years – a trait that would have been a red flag for prior generations. Per a LinkedIn study, over the past 20 years, the number of companies employees have worked for in the five years following graduation has nearly doubled. Another survey, from Careerbuilder, found that 45 percent of workers plan to change jobs within two years of their start date. So, with shorter tenures now the norm, how are HR teams to react?

Beyond accepting the reality and shifting talent acquisition strategies in accordance to these trends, organizations are also looking for new ways to keep top talent engaged for as long as possible. One way of doing this is by identifying what motivates workers to stick around. While these factors vary by industry and individual, some include: employee empowerment (feeling aligned with the company vision); how much they respect and/or trust their manager; and having a well-established career path (e.g. opportunities for continued learning, such as leadership training).

“Fearless” Millennials want leadership positions sooner

Another common trait among Millennials is the desire to move up the corporate ladder quicker than their predecessors. This isn’t as much about overconfidence as it is about Millennials’ fearlessness when it comes to striving for more responsibility at a younger age. They’re natural-born entrepreneurs, and they want to write their own scripts.

While many corporations are embracing this trend and boosting young “stars” to leadership positions, the environment has created gaps in soft skill development. Per the Harvard Business Review, most young managers (in their 20s or early 30s) wait more than a decade before they receive any formal executive leadership coaching. In other words, some talented young managers are falling short due to lack of training.

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The big takeaway for HR and innovation teams: Now is a time to take stock of your current employee engagement and management training practices. Ask yourself: Are the current methods of collecting feedback lining up with the pace of change, specifically as it pertains to Millennial workers? Further, are young managers receiving the leadership training they need to be set up to succeed?

When it comes to the “future of work,” those organizations able to use technology to capture – and, importantly, act on – real-time data will be able to keep Millennial employees motivated and engaged, as well as effectively groom the next generation of leadership.

 

davidmendlewiczDavid Mendlewicz is Co-Founder of Butterfly, a mobile leadership training tool designed for the Millennial generation. Joining David on the founding team are Marcus Perezi-Tormos and Simon Rakosi. Teams at leading companies such as Coca-Cola, GE, Citi and Ticketmaster are leveraging Butterfly’s technology to groom managers’ soft skills and keep employees engaged and happy. Follow Butterfly on Twitter @bttrflapp.

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