Gen Y, or Millennials, is the largest generation in today’s workforce. In fact, by 2020, Millennials will comprise approximately 75% of the global workforce. Because of this demographic shift, senior leaders worldwide are facing an uphill battle when it comes to managing their organizations – which is cause for concern. After all, how well you engage your Millennials will be what separates your organization from the rest of the pack.

Understanding what makes this generation tick will only benefit your organization in the long run. Here are three proven ways to engage Millennials more effectively – none of which includes ping pong tables or trophies.

Real-Time Feedback

The dreaded annual performance review is an outdated method of performance feedback. Yet upper management in organizations across every industry continues to turn a blind eye to unacceptable performance or behavior instead of taking corrective action immediately. Does it not make more sense to give feedback as things happen? Will this not deter future mistakes and thus lead to greater productivity? Aside from the effectiveness of real-time feedback, it’s what Millennials crave.

From Gallup’s How Millennials Want to Work and Live

Millennial workers are more engaged than non-millennials when their managers provide frequent and consistent communication and feedback. Forty-four percent of millennials who report that their manager holds regular meetings with them are engaged ― contrasting sharply with the 20% of engaged millennials who do not agree that their manager meets with them regularly. Regular meetings and consistent feedback pay dividends not only in engagement, but also in performance. Employees who meet regularly with their manager perform better for their team and company. 

From Gen Y Now: Millennials and the Evolution of Leadership

Gen Y wants real-time feedback equally between good and bad. Great 21st century leaders will realize, and Gen Y will demand, a new equation, equal (or greater) parts praise and constructive criticism. A simple “nice job” every now and then will not be enough for Gen Y, nor was it enough for previous generations either.

Real-time feedback and “explaining the why” will be the best tools a leader can use to develop Gen Y’s mastery.

It’s no secret that an engaged team is a productive team. Formulating a culture that provides real-time feedback shows Millennials you are committed to their continued development – which we will get to later – as well as helping to increase the effectiveness of your organization. Win-win for everyone.

Work Flexibility

The days of the traditional nine-to-five workday are long gone. Presence does not equal productivity. Read that sentence again. Millennials do not need to be in the office or working “normal hours” to get their work done. This is not due to laziness – like the stereotype would suggest. In fact, it is quite the opposite. This tactic directly reflects their idea of work-life balance. Millennials do not work to live like the generations who blazed the trail for them. Rather, they do not see much of a separation between work and their “personal” life – it’s just their life. To keep them engaged, give them the balance they want and watch as your production skyrockets.

From Bentley University’s Millennials at Work

77% of millennials say flexible work hours would make them more productive at work.

From 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey

88 percent wish they had the ability to choose when they start and finish work.

From FlexJobs Survey: Millennials More Interested in Travel, Work Flexibility Than Gen X, Baby Boomers

Work-life balance (84%) and work flexibility (82%) were numbers one and two respectively in the top five factors when looking for a job. A third (34 percent) have actually left a job because it did not have work flexibility.

If employers are wondering what’s in it for them to offer flexible work options, the survey finds that, by offering flexible work options, companies can potentially reduce turnover and increase productivity.

…Millennials also report being willing to make bottom-line saving sacrifices in exchange for [remote work] options:

  • Most respondents (82 percent) say they would be more loyal to their employers if they had flexible work options.
  • Three out of five (60 percent) of millennials think they would more be more productive at home vs. in an office.
  • About a third (35 percent) of respondents said they would take a 10-percent or 20-percent cut in pay.

Continued Development and Opportunities

Millennials think bigger picture and want to know that they play a part in the future of your organization. Investing in them is something that not only increases productivity, but also shows that you care about their development as a professional. Invest in the development of your Millennials and give them opportunities to contribute to the larger plan- you won’t be disappointed. And what’s more, you’ll avoid high-turnover while keeping your Millennial studs intact.

From Gallup’s How Millennials Want to Work and Live

Millennials care deeply about their development when looking for jobs and — naturally — in their current roles. An impressive 87% of millennials rate “professional or career growth and development opportunities” as important to them in a job — far more than the 69% of non-millennials who say the same.

… opportunities to learn and grow is one of the top three factors in retaining millennials and the only aspect of retention that separates millennials’ needs from those of non-millennials.

Investing in continued development for your team will keep them engaged as well as show potential hires that you are dedicated to their growth.

Millennials are unlike any generation in the workplace, past and present. Like it or not, they are here to stay. The good news is that keeping this group engaged doesn’t require drastic changes. Leave the gimmicks at the door and really invest in this generation. Give them the feedback they desire in real time, allow them to work remotely sporadically, and invest in their professional growth.

As our President, Buddy Hobart, writes in his book Gen Y Now: Millennials and the Evolution of Leadership, “Gen Y will not accept things the same way other generations have in the past. They WILL move on to find an employer who gets it.” Follow these three tips and be an organization that not only attracts, but retains, its Millennial workers.