Engaging the millenials

Millenials (also known as Generation Y, Digital Generation, to name a few) are the new breed of employees that organisations need to cater for. This new generation of workers are proficient users of technology; they have a different learning style and work culture. A recent study conducted by PwC, claims millenials will comprise 50% of the global workforce. The question is whether organisations are ready for them and how do you engage them?

John Gerzema in his book ‘The Athena Doctrine’ describes a working environment that is collaborative, adaptable, and nurturing in nature. Gerzema encourages leadership to be inclusive, promote diversity of ideas if organisations want to keep pace with the way society is changing and if they want to manage employee expectations. This type of working environment would attract a millennial.


Decisions and choices for this new generation of workers’ are motivated by the economic downturn, but are largely motivated by their culture. Many of them compromise on their first job and make plans to move on – millenials expect to have at least between 2 and 5 employers in their career. This may change as the global economy improves.

Other characteristics which define this generation:

  • Work/life balance
  • Flexible approach to work
  • Value and recognition
  • Variety of work and regular feedback

Millenials expect rapid progression through their career, a variety in their work. They want to feel valued and recognised for their contributions. Employers who have tapped into millennial talent such as Google and Apple tap into the millenial’s culture to get the best person for the job.


Millennials are digital natives, they are adept at using technology and have precise expectations on how technology should be used in the workplace. Organisations should look at their technology ecosystem and identify where they can integrate social tools that will help bridge the communication gap between the older generation of employees with millenials.

Consider the design of your training to engage millenials:

  • Integrate multimedia in training solutions: millenials are users of social media
  • Provide a less formal learning environment: millenials respond to flexibility
  • Make training relevant to what they need to know for performing their work
  • Explore digitial learning styles and delivery methods such as online learning modules, interactive game-play, webinars, or even include gamification in E-learning modules.

Millenials expect regular performance feedback, coaching, and a desire to learn; pair them with mentors or coaches who can  provide them with regular, detailed and measurable feedback.

Organisations need to understand this new generation in order to attract and retain them. A few things to consider:

  • Employers should be clear in what they are offering and what they expect in return
  • Encouraging career development through cycles of experience will help challenge and motivate them
  • Encourage learning: millenials are learner-driven and seek learning opportunities.
  • Promote rapid progression: millenials are career driven so reward high achievers with recognition and promotion
  • Expect staff turnover and build this into your plan.
Next Article