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The Unengaged Millennial: How Companies Are Failing to Meet Employees’ Expectations

Countless employers have labeled millennial workers as unengaged and unmotivated. The broad perception of the youngest members of the work force is that they don’t know what they want and expect something for nothing. While it’s true that millenials are indeed demanding, it’s not the case that they are not willing to work for what they want. The issue that many millenials face is the feeling that they are investing a significant deal of their time and energy into their work and are not receiving anything in return for their efforts. On the other hand, many employers feel that they are making an effort to invest in their employees. The disconnect here is the difference between what employers think millenials want and what they actually want. Before dismissing millenials as unengaged, take the time to answer these questions and bridge the gap.

  1. Does your company offer career development and continuous learning opportunities?

In addition to having a diversity of responsibilities, entry-level employees are looking for opportunities to learn, grow, and become experts. It can be easy to become disengaged when it feels as though you have mastered what you are doing and are no longer challenged or learning. To keep millenials engaged, it’s recommended that employers conduct seminars and work sessions that provide the opportunity for employees to learn industry-specific trends and skills.

  1. Do you recognize the accomplishments of your employees?

Often times, millenials feel that they have little work-life balance and receive little acknowledgement for all the time and energy they dedicate to work. When you’re working around the clock to produce results, sometimes all you need to stay engaged is a little recognition. A little encouragement from management can make the extra hours worth it and reassure employees that they are on the right track.

  1. How are performance reviews conducted and acted upon?

It’s time to abandon the antiquated, one-sided approach to performance reviews and replace it with a more holistic method- the 360 review. Many companies still conduct top-down reviews where more senior employees meet and perform a review of their direct reports with no consideration of how management is performing and meeting the expectations of their team members. Conducting top-down performance reviews not only neglects the sentiments of junior team members, but it also limits opportunities for growth among management. Why is this important? Well, without checking in to see how your employees are doing, you run the risk of them becoming perpetually disengaged.

  1. Do opportunities for growth exist?

People are willing to do more when they know that their actions will ultimately lead to opportunity. This isn’t to say that millenials only work hard because they want to be promoted, but it is important to consider that employees will not stick around at a company where they will never be able to accomplish the career goals they have set for themselves.

  1. Have you evaluated how your efforts to engage are impacting your team?

It can’t go unrecognized that some employers are making whole-hearted efforts to engage their millennial employees. The question is- have you checked in with your employees to ensure that your efforts are producing the anticipated results? Rather than assume, be certain that your tactics intended to engage employees are doing just that.


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