Business leaders must do more to engage millennials

It pays to take a more personalised, strategic approach to engage millennials in your team, according to a study.

New research suggests that Australian CEOs do not fully understand the needs of millennials but they do want to hire more of them and engage millennials them over the next three years.*

Clearly, traditional CEOs are worried about not engaging with younger workers. The KPMG study showed it was one of their biggest concerns – 79% of Australian CEOs said they were worried about how millennials’ differing business needs would change the way companies do business.

CEOs need to recognise the importance of engaging with workers. Not only to retain high-performing employees but to also increase productivity.

Another study by The Harvard Business Review cited key employee engagement drivers as: lauding high performers; promoting clear understanding of how each employee contributes to overall strategy; nurturing open, regular communication about the senior leadership’s strategy; and ensuring business goals are communicated and understood by the team.

Engaged employees are more likely to deliver great customer service, which drives increased profits and shareholder returns.

Simply throwing more communications at employees does not increase engagement. In fact, it can make employees feel more isolated than ever, since it can indicate that the company doesn’t care about them as individuals. It’s critical for organisations to take a more personalised, strategic approach to increasing engagement.

Here are five tips for CEOs looking to engage with millennials:

1. Walk the talk when it comes to leadership

To engage millennials and have positive, passionate and energetic employees, you must be willing to demonstrate these qualities as a leader.

2. Recognise everybody’s achievements

Recognise the achievements of staff members whose accomplishments may be less visible than those of frontline employees. Team lunches, thank-you cards or post-it notes, and verbally thanking employees are effective ways to recognise and appreciate positive contributions.

3. Ensure employees know the value of their contribution

Millennials who clearly understand the importance of their individual contributions are more likely to feel appreciated by, and engaged with their employer. For example, an employee who prepares equipment for the next shift to use may save time for the next workers and this translates to increased productivity.

4. Reward excellence

Effective work incentives are not always monetary. There are alternative ways to reward staff for great work. It’s important to avoid a one-size-fits-all approach. Create a quarterly awards event that showcases achievements of employees who regularly excel – it can be a fun and motivating way to reward staff, and boost team morale.

5. Make sure employees understand the business and its brand

The more time and energy you invest in making sure members understand the company and its brand, the greater you can engage millennials and the resulting alignment among the team will be. Regular training and communication between management and staff, emphasising the goals and objectives of the business, can help achieve this.

* KPMG study – Global CEO Outlook (2016)

Rob van Es, Acting CEO, REFFIND

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