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How to better engage millennials (and why they aren't really so different)

Rich Hein | June 13, 2013
Millennials aren't so different... when you get down to the core principles of what millennials want in the workplace, they want what any good employee would want from his or her employer.

More than one expert explained that these individuals come into the workforce and they want to be impactful and advance quickly. "They [millennials] have aspirations and they want to achieve them real quick. There has to be clear communication on where we are today, where we are going to be tomorrow and what's expected for them to achieve. We make sure they understand that there is a process that needs to be met and accomplishments that you need to hit in order to ascend to that realm," says Jack Cullen, CEO of Modis, an IT staffing company.

Myth or Truth? Millennials Ask Too Many Questions
"Because of the use of social networking and growing up in world where everything is so transparent, it can be difficult [for millennials] to come into a workplace where communication is not as effective or where it's hard to understand what the organizational mission is," says Rikleen.

Again, it goes back in the environment millennials were raised in. From an early age they are taught to ask why. This could also stem from the fact that they come from a place where ideas and thoughts are shared via digital means in an almost instantaneous way. You can help millennials make the connection, Rucker says. "As a leader you have to be sure you are explaining what you're doing and why you're doing it so they can see the connection going on," says Rucker.

Building Better Engagement
We asked the experts to describe some of the best ways to strengthen relationships and decrease turnover rates among millennials. However, these are things that would make a better workplace for everyone.

Build a Career Succession Strategy: One way that will help attract more millennials and retain them longer is to create a career path within your organization that allows them to grow professionally and move up the ranks.

"They can be so self-absorbed that they don't understand what's going on in the company. I need to have their vision tied up in the company vision. I try to find a way to make where they want to go in five years a subset of where the company is in five years," says Rucker.

Rucker says that you have to understand that an employee isn't going to be with you forever. You have to be realistic about that fact. Sometimes when she talks about a career map with an employee the end result could lie outside her company and according to her that's OK.

What is important is that you show them what it takes to get to the next level and you illustrate all the paths available to get there. "What I try and do is lay out a career map that isn't necessarily hierarchical, but has several areas that can lead to the same salary and therefore the same perceived lifestyle for them [millenials]," says Rucker.


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