How can business better engage millennials?

I've lost count of the amount of articles I have read that criticise millennials, saying we are self-obsessed, lazy, entitled and non-committal.

How can business better engage millennials, asks Marielle Legair
How can business better engage millennials, asks Marielle Legair
At least, that’s the perception you would have if you believed every story you read.
As a millennial, I find all the research (in full disclosure, including from my own company) done on my generation – who will comprise 75 per cent of the global workforce by 2025 – incredibly fascinating. After all, we are the future and, in some cases, today’s leaders.

As such, organisations and companies must better understand our needs in order to develop a robust talent pipeline for years to come.

It’s great to see increased dialogue taking place around the leadership aspirations of this group and how they will shape businesses in the future. Here are my top tips for comms organisations on engaging with millennials in 2015.

Articulate a clear purpose

Millennials – particularly the ‘super-connected’ ones who use social media regularly – want to work for a company that has a sense of purpose beyond profit. Yet some research shows millennials believe business is too focused on its own agenda and not enough on improving broader society. This disparity between aspirations and current perceptions suggests that business leaders must work hard to refocus their agenda or risk not being able to attract and retain the future generation.

Help develop key skills

Research shows that millennials do not always feel their organisation is making full use of their skills. Business must address this issue or face the long-term consequences. For example, millennials are regular users of social media and other technology to interact with brands. How can organisations benefit from these skills? Organisations could implement reverse mentoring programmes, whereby millennials and senior employees work together to close the knowledge gap for both parties. Senior employees could learn social media practices in exchange for sharing industry best practice advice. 

Understand how millennials like to be managed

The leadership qualities deemed important to millennials differ from previous generations. This will have implications on how this group likes to be managed. Millennials place less value on technically skilled leaders. Instead, they define strong leaders as strategic thinkers who are inspirational and personable. How many business leaders can say they currently prioritise these skills?

From all of the differing opinions out there about millennials, one fact remains. In ten years’ time, millennials will make up the majority of the world’s workforce so businesses must proactively engage this generation on their terms based on what matters most to them.

After all, to remain relevant, organisations must develop a solid understanding of the needs of the current and future workforce and adjust accordingly, or they will find themselves out of sync. 

Marielle Legair is a global PR manager at Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu

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