April 24, 2018

How To Engage Millennials At Work

Why Are Millennials So Special?

Good question, why are they so special, and what even is a Millennial anyway?

Also known as Generation Y (or in a rare existential moment, why…), a millennial is described as someone born between around 1980 and 2000.

If you are one, you have grown up in an age of instant communication and 24h rolling news. You’re more self-assured than previous generations. You have a greater sense of civic responsibility, a more liberal approach to politics, economics and sexuality and you’re more than happy to spunk the business end of a fiver on decent coffee.

Among these seismic shifts in attitude and outlook, one big one stands out. According to three US-based professors*, it’s what makes you happy. What adds value?

*Dr Thomas Gilovich (Cornell U.), Dr Amit Kumar (U. of Chicago), Dr Matthew Killingsworth (U. of California)

For the millennial, ‘Experiential purchases (money spent on doing) tend to provide more enduring happiness than material purchases (money spent on having). Waiting for experiences tends to be more pleasurable and exciting than waiting to receive a material good.’

That statement is no truer than in the workplace.

How Do We Engage with Millennials in the Workplace?

Most recruiters these days will tell you that the job market is candidate-driven so employers have had to shift their attitude from ‘you should be grateful to work here, just get on with it’ to ‘we are grateful to have you, what can we do for you.’

For most, growing up in a world of abundance means that basic needs have been met long ago so it’s time to fulfil higher needs. If we refer to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs, these are Love/Belonging (social, love, family, team) and Esteem (importance, recognition, respect) and they can all be delivered through what is known as the ‘employee experience.’

The goal here is to change perceptions. It’s about shifting the relationship with work from what is essentially a material purchase (where happiness and satisfaction deceases over time) to an experiential experience (where anticipation is exciting and satisfaction increases over time).

What Is the Employee Experience?

It used to be money and benefits but it isn’t any more. Millennials are switched on, literally and metaphorically. The most talented can walk into any job they choose and often are the subject of bidding wars between rival companies, so aside from giving them footballer-style salaries, 40 days’ holiday and a company cabrio, what can employers do?

Ryan Jenkins (who describes himself as a Millennial Speaker & Generations Expert – no, we don’t know what that means either) writing for inc.com says, ‘Employee experience can be defined as the impact an organisation’s processes, policies, perks, and programs have on its people.’

He goes on to say, ‘Millennials aren’t interested in simply filling a job. Instead, they want meaning, strong company culture, and extraordinary experiences at work.’ He continues, ‘they [Millennials] don’t look to corporations for job security. Instead, they recognise that their networks and skills will provide any security and stability they seek. This new shift redirects the responsibility of the organisation to deliver a place where employees want to show up instead of a place where they have to show up.’

Here at Liquid, a good proportion of our business is focused on placing graduates (all of whom, are, by definition, Millennials) and our job doesn’t end when the commission cheque rolls in. We keep an eye on what’s going on.

We want to ensure that we aren’t just shifting people into jobs. We want to make sure that these ‘jobs’ can become careers in companies that care as much about the welfare of their staff as they do about the bottom line. It’s the only solution. An equal focus on cause (employee experiences) AND effect (an engaged workforce) is required and it will come as no great shock that companies who focus on employee engagement far outperform those that can’t be bothered.

Don’t be under any disillusion; there’s a talent war going on and for once it doesn’t matter how much money you through at it. Create employee experiences and you’ll win. Don’t bother and nor will they.

Catch you soon.

The Liquid Team