7 Ways Startups Can Keep Their Millennial Workforce Engaged


It is a well-known fact that millennials will soon represent 75 % of the global workforce. To put it the other way around, millennials hold the key to the future of the corporate world. For organizations, this paradigm shift in workplace demographics is both beneficial and challenging. Businesses, entrepreneurs, and startups all join in the hope that they can keep their millennial workforce engaged and happy.

Millennials are the Future of all Business

Millennials surely bring great intellect and potential to the workplace. However, the same generation is also infamous for low rates of employee engagement.

The truth is, that organizations cannot run away from this critical transition. They need to embrace this change by looking at the brighter side of it. If low engagement in millennials is an issue, business leaders need to find definite solutions to the issue. After all, employee engagement has a direct correlation with business success.

If You Engage These Optimists — You’ll Be Profitable

Did you know that companies with high engagement can turn out to be 21 % more profitable than their counterparts? This insight by Forbes explains why employee engagement is a buzzword in the modern business world. For you as a startup owner, this insight holds far greater significance. If you succeed in driving high engagement in your millennial workforce, you can take your startup to the next level within a span of a few years.

How Do You Stop the Millennial Hopping?

Yes, millennials are known for low engagement levels and for hopping jobs too soon. However, it is also true that highly engaged millennials can be a force to reckon with. With their prowess and charm, millennials can change the fortunes of your startup for the better.

How Will You Lead the Future Leaders?

As a leader, this is where your effectiveness will be tested. In the ultimate sense, it all comes down to what you can do differently as a leader to stimulate high engagement in your pool of millennial talents. When you succeed in doing that, you can lead your business to great success.

To offer some valuable assistance, this blog highlights some exceptional and rational ways in which you can boost engagement in a millennial workforce. So, let us get started without further ado.

Incredible Tactics to Drive Engagement in a Millennial Workforce

1. Cultivate a culture of empathy

Your organization’s culture has an essential role to play in fostering high engagement. Would you feel like giving your best in an environment that is not very welcoming? On most days, your performance is inspired by your surrounding environment. The same is the case when it comes to your employees.

Empathy is a workplace virtue millennials prioritize

When it comes to engagement, the working environment has a direct role to play. In fact, as per Forbes, companies with great cultures can increase their revenue by four times. There are various dimensions of organizational culture. However, in times when most people find their mental health vulnerable, empathy is a workplace virtue they prioritize.

Are you psychologically safe for your workforce?

As a business leader, you can offer greater psychological and emotional safety to your workforce. Speaking of millennials, in particular, they often find themselves in the middle of emotional chaos where they look up to others. They want their seniors and co-workers to understand their emotions and assist them in dealing with their emotional insecurities.

In fact, empathy is one of the greater considerations for millennial employees. To substantiate, as per inFeedo, 80 % of millennials will consider quitting their jobs to join a more empathetic organization. Clearly, workplace empathy is vital for both engagement and retention when it comes to millennials.

Understand the millennial mindset

To be fair, millennials do feel bogged down at times because of enormous competition, consistent work stress, and other reasons. Also, they tend to struggle at times to segregate their personal and professional lives. In such scenarios, their motivation and engagement certainly take a setback.

On the contrary, they will be amply satisfied and happy to be a part of an empathetic workplace. In such an environment, they will not feel reluctant to trust their co-workers and ask for help.

Is your business dangerous emotionally? At this time in history, the working climate needs to be safer than it ever has been before.

All employees in high-trust organizations are 76 % more engaged. That goes doubly for the millennials. Harvard Business Review further reveals that in high-trust companies, employee burnout rates are 40 % lower.

The bottom line is that empathy is the basis of trust. Further, by cultivating trust, you can unlock new levels of productivity and engagement in your organization.

2. Promote career development opportunities

It is often argued that millennials exhibit low levels of engagement in their jobs. Well, that is true to a great extent and it is indeed challenging for organizations. However, at the same time, it is also true that millennials carry a unique zeal to learn and advance. For them, workplace learning and career advancement are of utmost importance.

Learning opportunities in the workplace are imperative for 87 % of millennials

Besides, vital insights reveal that millennials value career growth opportunities more than other generations. To explain, 72 % of millennials give importance to career advancement. On the other hand, 64 % of Gen Z employees prioritize career growth.

Promote career development

A vital and great way of fostering employee engagement among your millennial workforce is to promote career development. You need to find ways in which you can offer enriching learning experiences to your millennial employees. Moreover, you also need to go a step further to offer reasonable career advancement opportunities to them.

The question is, how can an organization do complete justice to millennials’ learning and advancement expectations?

Effective strategies that you easily implement as a small business

Offer immersive learning experiences through gamification
Encourage your employees to take initiative
Introduce millennial-centric mentoring programs in the workplace
Offer leadership opportunities to your millennial employees
Delegate more responsibilities to your millennial workers
Leverage professional development apps and LMS
Create cross-functional teams
Track learning outcomes through KPIs

These strategies are quite inexpensive. As a small business, you would not have to spend much on incorporating these approaches. However, the kind of returns these strategies will offer can be quite overwhelming. Novel strategies are surely worth a try.

The greater your effectiveness in terms of implementing these retention strategies the better the results.

3. Encourage regular feedback sharing

In every organization, feedback loop sharing is a crucial aspect of performance management. Also, feedback loop sharing is a key aspect of social interactions in the workplace.

The flow of knowledge and guidance remains perennial when feedback sharing is regular. Especially in the context of startups where almost everything is in the learning phase, feedback sharing is far more significant.

Feedback loop sharing correlating to high engagement employees

Feedback sharing has a direct correlation with employee engagement and HubSpot reveals that more than 40 % of highly engaged employees receive feedback every week. Further, 98 % of employees will struggle with engagement if they do not receive regular feedback.

All employees need and can benefit from constant feedback to drive high productivity and engagement. However, millennials, specifically, expect to receive feedback far more regularly than others. They want to become better versions of themselves each day through effective learning and upskilling.

Millennials are highly receptive to feedback from their managers and supervisors.

Millennials want and expect to receive constant and constructive feedback even if they do not ask for it. Engaging millennials with feedback is an incredible way to engage them. You need to revamp your performance management approach. Your performance management strategies need to make way for more regular feedback sharing.

Your managers and supervisors need to be trained in various approaches to be able to offer a constructive promotion of careers and how to take more responsibility in feedback loops.

It takes effort and concerted effort, strategy, and planning to create a culture of systematic and thoughtful feedback sharing.

4. Promote greater flexibility

Flexibility is one of the highlights of the new normal when we talk about the corporate world. As the expanse of technological innovations is widening, flexibility is becoming a thriving trend. In fact, millennials and Gen Z folks are quite obsessed with the idea of flexibility.

Millennials want to do things in their own way from working in a location of their choice and at a time they deem appropriate.

BusinessLine on Campus conducted a survey showing that more than 60 % of millennials have a huge preference for flexible working arrangements.

Millennials joining the flexible workforce

A large number of millennials will leave their current jobs to join organizations that offer greater flexibility and autonomy. To be precise, People Matters concludes that more than 51 % of millennial workers will quit their jobs for greater flexibility.

Since the pandemic more and more businesses have realized that a remote workforce works just fine — and in fact, possibly better than ever. Globally the workforce is changing. The best part is that everyone from the largest businesses to the smallest startup are embracing the possibilities of a remote team. Connectivity is better than ever and every business had to up their game during the pandemic or go out of business and the possibilities are exciting.

When you offer greater flexibility to your employees, you empower them by setting them free.

Also, when you offer flexibility to your employees, you assist them in achieving the kind of healthy work-life balance they have always dreamed of.

Work-Life balance — not just for the millennial

Apollo Technical found that around 80 % of employees are of the view that flexible working hours facilitate better work-life balance. Employees of all ages and stages are responding with greater engagement with the help of their employers in overcoming the major life challenges of the work-life balance.

Flexibility is spelled T.R.U.S.T.

Employees perceive flexibility as a measure of trust. You offer flexibility to your employees when you trust them enough for the fact that they will not misuse their time and effort just because you are not looking over their shoulder.

Feelings of high trust always lead an organization to great milestones in productivity.

5. Millennials love to share a common purpose

One of the greatest assets of your millennials in the workforce is that they instinctively have an innate sense of purpose. Your millennials will lead your whole team in projects that serve a purpose whether in your workplace or serving out in your community.

The millennials want to make a positive difference in their surroundings with their work and unparalleled skills. Most millennials today want to work for purpose-driven businesses and serving a larger purpose keeps millennials highly engaged.

Millennials want to work for a great cause

A Forbes study shows that more than 70 % of millennials want to work for businesses that cater to a larger purpose beyond profits.

Fast Company reveals that around 40 % of millennials prefer to work for organizations that contribute positively to sustainability. If you wish to drive high engagement in a millennial workforce, your startup needs to find its purpose. Start by writing a purpose-driven mission statement.

Even better — share your “why” and your high purpose with all employees

Retain your top millennial talents by sharing your company’s larger purpose with them. This purpose can be in the form of corporate social responsibilities, great projects to help the environment you feel a responsibility for — or take some company funds and go feed the homeless in your area.

Motivation for the extra mile

When your millennial workforce is convinced that their organization works for a larger purpose, the motivation levels will be enormous. Millennials will go the extra mile for their organization when they see their efforts in contributing to a collective goal.

For best results — add your purpose-driven goals to your brand

Also, by creating a perception of a purpose-driven company for your startup, you can create an appealing employer or business brand. The top millennial talents around you would love to be a part of your organization for its purpose-driven approach.

Core values and actions speak for themselves

Remember, millennials are smart and observant people. Choose from organic virtues in the natural workplace environment and allow your workforce to offer suggestions. This is where you as a leader will have the opportunity to lead by example.

6. Embrace inclusion

Millennials are happy to be a part of a diverse and inclusive work environment. They are keen on learning from others’ perspectives and exploring others’ experiences. A diverse workplace that embraces inclusion at all levels gives them a perfect opportunity to do so.

Diverse and inclusive environments are vibrant and help all employees remain engaged

Millennials are uncompromising in the virtues of equality, equity, and inclusion

You’ll find your entire workforce will gain emotional intelligence when embracing the mind of the millennial with respect to equality and inclusion regardless of gender, race, ethnicity, or any other differentiation.

Hiring a diverse workforce in itself may not be enough — you’ll want to fully embrace inclusion and find ways to build a fully operational team. Your team will learn to trust each other and work through issues on team projects with greater communication skills.

How will you embrace inclusion?

Make the decision-making process more transparent and inclusive
Promote Diversity and Inclusion through games and training activities in the workplace
Encourage your employees to take the initiative
Cultivate greater self-advocacy among your employees
Offer greater creative liberty to your employees
Seek employee feedback

7. Offer personalized rewards to millennial

The importance of employee recognition and rewards is well known in the workplace and in business. As a leader, you already know that appreciation and recognition are among the strong pillars of engagement.

Of course, a startup doesn’t have exorbitant resources to invest in employee recognition programs. But even small recognition directed toward your employees will grow in great benefits in terms of engagement in organizations.

Millennials don’t mind a smaller price tag

It is not always about the price of the reward. When it comes to millennials, they don’t go after the high price tag. Even if you are appreciating them for a simple post on social media,– they will feel pleased that you noticed and their motivation levels will rise.

Think “personalization” for effective awards and rewards

As a small business, you can offer non-monetary personalized rewards to your employees to enhance engagement. Personalization is a booming trend at present and will help you choose relevant gifts and small tokens of appreciation for your employees. Awards that are given publically at expected intervals — like quarterly are beneficial for motivation. Why not inculcate personalization in employee recognition to steer workplace motivation?

Rewards offered by company leadership go a long way toward motivation

Personalized rewards can capture your whole team’s engagement in the most worthwhile way. For instance, let’s say an employee is a huge fan of binge-watching. To reward that employee, you can offer a Netflix subscription as a token of appreciation.

Similarly, if an employee loves to read fictional novels, you can give the latest novels to recognize their contribution. Also, when you offer personalized rewards, it promotes a sense of belonging among your employees. They feel valued and understood when you reward them with something that is closely linked to their heart.

To encapsulate

Millennials are the future of the global workforce and you are lucky to have them in your employ.

A few millennials may come with a rigid challenge or two — that may include low engagement and high turnover — but you’ll find their energy and high work output more than makes up for most of these temporary hiccups.

Use the strategies above to cultivate and involve your whole team with greater efficiency and connectedness to each other and your company. They will help you build a wide spectrum of ideas, creativity, talent, and skill in your company and workforce.

Image Credit: by Ketut Subiyanto; Pexels; Thank you!

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