Solving the Millennial Problem: Two Ways For CEOs to Engage Gen Y

Whitepapers - Aug 10, 2017

Think Shift
Leadership & Culture
Millennials — can’t live with ‘em, can’t live without ‘em, right?

Well, creating a culture of empowerment can go a long way in making Generation Y a little easier to live (and work) with.

Millennial stereotypes

If memes and mainstream media are any indication of reality, the youngest generation in the workforce is a sensitive, lazy, entitled bunch who expect mental health breaks, copious amounts of praise, unlimited vacation days and a smattering of Silicon Valley-esque perks (think: complimentary Starbucks, slides, ping-pong tables, fully-stocked snack fridges — the works).

But are millennials really that entitled?

Here’s the short answer (a bit of wisdom most millennials learned in grade school) — don’t trust everything you read on the internet.

Research has shown that, yes, millennials do job-hop frequently: but that’s part and parcel of being in the early stages of your career. In fact, millennials actually job-hop less often than Gen Xers did at the same age.

We won’t bore you with too many numbers, but a 2016 Deloitte survey has revealed that this “lazy” generation values professional development very highly, but feels that their skills aren’t grown or taken advantage of at their current workplaces.

Millennials aren’t really that different from us: they simply want a job that challenges them and helps them grow. Yet their engagement in the workplace is abysmal, with only 29% feeling truly engaged. And that’s really the root of the problem: employees who experience low engagement have low morale, are less efficient, less likely to produce high-quality work…the list goes on.

Only 29% of millennials are engaged at work

So really, your gut instinct is correct: we do have a millennial problem. But that’s just a symptom of something bigger: an engagement problem. And as CEO, that’s your problem to fix.

After all, to get people to care, you need to give them a reason beyond ping pong tables and Beer Fridays. You need to up the stakes. Doling out increased responsibilities creates an environment where people are intrinsically motivated to pursue success and go above and beyond. But change won’t occur in a vacuum: it must start with you, the CEO.

The recipe for success is simple: encourage all of your employees —millennials especially — to take ownership of their work by cultivating a culture of empowerment.

What does a culture of empowerment look like?

  1. It looks like employees who have the authority to make decisions.
  2. It looks like employees who fulfill their commitments, and who work in an environment that makes it safe to hold others accountable for not living up to their commitments.

It works like this: the stakes are higher for those who take an active role in managing responsibilities and making decisions, and being directly responsible for success or failure is often the kick in the pants we all need to start to care and engage.

Want your organization to look like the one we just described? Complete the form to download our whitepaper and learn more.