EngagementEngaging millennials through purpose

Engaging millennials through purpose

Connecting with millennials in the workforce continues to make headlines, why is this? How can we ensure full engagement? 

The 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey based on more than 10,000 millennials across 26 countries gives organisations cause for concern. The report suggests that millennials are more concerned about the world around them than ever. Only a minority now believe that corporations behave ethically (48% versus 65% last year) and only 45% expect the economic situations in their countries to improve over the next year.

Our volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous (VUCA) world has left millennials searching for reassurance and purpose.

This data echoes the outcome of our own research at iOpener Institute into the views of 18,000 professionals which showed that Generation Y, the digital cohort born after the early 1980s, need to feel that their work has a strong economic or social purpose. They need to feel proud of their organisation and the work that it does.

The analysis in our report suggests that being involved in work that is challenging and interesting is a top priority for millennials. The report findings revealed that Gen Y also has to feel that their work is worthwhile and makes a valuable contribution to the economy or society. There is an extremely strong alignment between job fulfillment (‘loving your job’) and feeling that your occupation is doing something worthwhile.

Does it really matter if millennials love their job or not?

Like all of us, millennials need to feel happy at work. Our research definitively showed that Gen Y employees who love their job are less likely to leave. A single point of increase in job fulfillment brings down the intention to leave by 0.8 points. This suggests that millennials are not inherently interested in jumping jobs for the sake of a bigger pay packet or because they are bored quickly. Instead, they are simply not prepared to stay in jobs that make them unhappy. For organisations which have invested in training and developing these talented employees, retaining them for as long as possible to deliver a return on investment is key.

Related to organisational purpose, millennials also need to believe in the strategic direction that their employer is pursuing. There was a strong correlation between the trust that Gen Y employees have in their leaders’ vision, and their intention to leave the organisation. The more Gen Y believes in the leadership’s corporate strategy, the less likely they are to leave. Vice versa, if trust in the vision of their leaders falls, their intention to quit increases. Going back to the issue of talent retention, this highlights the need to regularly and convincingly communicate key points of corporate strategy, along with tangible proof points of how that strategy is being implemented and the contribution it is making to corporate success.

What can leaders do?

There are a number of things you can do as a leader to help your people connect with the purpose of their work and the overall corporate strategy.

These three are a good place to start:

  • Make your organisation’s vision crystal clear – and ensure it is a worthwhile vision. Repeat it often and bring it to life visually and physically wherever you can.
  • Create visibility internally about the impact of your organisation’s work and how it benefits others, economically or socially.
  • Link the work that individual Gen Y employees do to the bigger picture. Create meaning by connecting their individual contribution to the overall effect of your organisation on the world around them.

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