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  • Janine Friedman, Executive Coach

Engaging Millennials

Updated: Mar 3, 2020

Did you know that millennials (those born between (1980 - 1995) will make up 75% of the workforce in less than 5 years? There are 83 million millennials and smart companies have geared their marketing efforts to this huge population and shifted their People strategies as well.

I was thrilled to have had the opportunity today to speak to a group of HR professionals on what it takes to engage millennials. It was great to share information and insights with those on the front-line of New York’s war for talent.

Here are a few key takeaways from the presentation:

Since millennials are such a huge part of the workforce, it is important to understand their characteristics, what makes them tick, what they value, and the best ways to keep them engaged. It is also important to keep in mind that we are talking about the group in general, but that individual differences exist as well.

I explained that of key importance is looking at what was going on politically, socially and economically during the time the millennials came of age. Events like 9/11 and the Great Recession had a massive impact as did sweeping shifts in technology. These factors affected how they were raised and ultimately, how they want and need to be led.

If you have heard managers in your organization use the word ‘lazy” to describe this group, that is a sign to dig a little deeper. You might actually learn that your millennials aren’t lazy, they are simply disengaged. The cost of employee disengagement to U.S. businesses is estimated at $300 billion (or $2,000 per employee) due to lost productivity.

If your company is losing the war for talent, or wants to see greater employee engagement, especially amongst millennials, here are 10 things to look at/implement:

1. Coaching/Collaborative Leadership Style – millennials favor a collaborative and coaching style of leadership over command and control.

2. Organizational Purpose – millennials make purchasing and employment decisions based on why a company does what it does with a preference towards those that are socially responsible.

3. Help them Grow or Watch them Go – they want to learn and grow and seek to affiliate with companies that will involve them, coach them and invest in their success.

4. Employee Experience (EX) – this relates to what it feels like to be an employee in an organization throughout the employee lifecycle (from recruitment all the way through to exit). Millennials value experience more than material things and corporate culture, environment and technology are some of the things that impact how excited employees feel about going to work.

5. Flexibility – they have always had choices (what to eat, what classes to take, extracurricular activities, etc.) and thrive when flexible options are available to them. Policies on working remotely, flexible working hours and dress codes are some areas to look at.

6. Wellness Programming – as the most stressed generation in the workplace, this is extremely important to the millennials. One major cause of their stress are those massive student loans.

7. Recognition and Appreciation – millennials received constant feedback and praise growing up and many will leave organizations if they don’t feel appreciated.

8. Teamwork – working in groups is perceived as more fun and this provides a sense of unity and collaboration. According to an IBM study, more than ½ of millennials studied claimed to work better in groups.

9. Technology – second nature to millennials who don’t have patience for slow, our outdated technological infrastructure.

10. Diversity and Inclusion – good news here as millennials are a generation that have experienced diversity thanks to their iPhones. They’d be a great asset to your D&I strategic committees.

As you can see, these are all things that can serve to create greater engagement regardless of one’s generation.

The Feedback I received on this presentation was extremely positive with many commenting that they found it both eye-opening and filled with practical tips they could bring back to their organizations.

If you want to learn more on how to keep your millennials engaged, please feel free to contact me.

Leadership is a Choice.


“11 Ways to Create Real Employee Engagement”, Michael Houlihan and Bonnie Harvey.

“Carrots and Sticks Don’t Work: Build a Culture of Employee Engagement with the Principles of RESPECT”, Paul Marciano

“Five Ways to Improve Employee Engagement”, Gallup Business Journal

“Help Them Grow or Watch the Go”, Beverly Kay and Julie Winkle Giulioni

“How The Best Places to Work are Nailing Employee Engagement”, Sylvia Vorhauser-Smith,

“8 Influential Employee Engagement Trends” Bonusly Blog, January 2019

“3 Strategies to Engage Millennials”, Christine Comaford,

“The Best Way to Engage Millennials at Work” Ryan Jenkins,

“How to Lead and Engage Millennials in the Workplace”

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