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Millennials in the Workforce -- Engaging Them, Retaining Them

04/02/2015 02:55 pm ET | Updated Jun 02, 2015

As the new millennial generation becomes the majority of the workforce, it's safe to say the workforce culture is changing significantly. By 2020, millennials will form 50 percent of the global workforce. With this new generation that was raised on mobile devices and social networks, entrepreneurs and business owners are recognizing traditional management and communication methods of the past are no longer working on this new breed of employee.

A recent study by Deloitte found that more than half of millennials want to reach the senior-most position at their current organization. This shows there is a great opportunity for retention of talented young professionals within an organization. However, only 28 percent of millennials feel that their current organization is making full use of their skills.

Millennials may represent the unknown to a lot of us in the business world, but, as the stats show, they're also the open-minded, fresh face of the future. The complicated part of employing this new generation isn't necessarily understanding them, but attracting and retaining them, which requires a bit of culture change on the part of executives and business leaders.

The millennial workforce is looking for, and expecting, something a little different than the generations that came before them. Therefore, any organization that's looking to not only hire, but also engage and empower a millennial workforce, might need to make some adjustments to cater to the employees of the future.

Flexibility is Key

Telecommuting is no longer a concept of the future -- it's happening here and now and it's something that millennials appreciate and look for when applying to and accepting job positions. The flexibility to get their work done any time, from anywhere, is something that's essentially appealing to this generation. Thanks in part to new technologies and the mobile revolution, this type of flexible work environment increases productivity by enabling millennial workers to get their jobs done without having to adhere to traditional workplace constructs.

Because I'm Happy

Where generations before them would take whatever position necessary to make ends meet, members of the millennial generation are much more interested in truly enjoying what they do. In fact, almost two-thirds of millennials would rather make about $40,000 a year at a job they love than $100,000 a year at a job they think is boring. For this reason, it's important for companies employing millennials to keep their jobs exciting and challenging.

Even for companies that might not be the sexiest or the most thrilling by nature, there are ways to provide your employees -- millennials and non-millennials alike -- with a dose of fun corporate culture. Whether you're keeping them enticed with challenging new projects and assignments, or hosting monthly off-site team building activities, by cultivating a culture of excitement and happiness, coming to work will be more than just "the daily grind" -- it will be something that your employees actually look forward to.

Everyone is Essential

Although corporate hierarchies will probably always exist, making everyone within an organization, especially the newest members of the workforce, understand their value and importance to the company is crucial. In fact, according to the Deloitte study, six out of ten millennials said that a sense of purpose is the reason they chose to work for their current employer. When you properly communicate your organization's purpose, standards and goals down to the entire team, it helps everyone have a true sense of what they're working together to accomplish and how their everyday work and actions are making an impact on reaching those goals. To produce their best work, millennials need to feel engaged in what they're doing. Keep them in the loop and do so on a regular basis.

Make an Impact

Millennials want to make a difference. Whether it's impacting their organization, the community or the world, millennials pride themselves on their ability to make positive change happen. The Deloitte study also shows that 75 percent of millennials believe businesses are too focused on their own agendas, and not enough so on improving society -- a troubling statistic for today's business leaders.

If you don't already have a set of core values that define who you are as a company, take the time to discuss and align all company initiatives with these. When millennials feel that the work they're doing has a clear, positive purpose, it helps them, and in turn your business, to thrive.

Millennials are, without a doubt, the future of the business world -- and they're here now. What once motivated the workforce, may need a bit of tweaking to work for the next generation that will soon make up the majority of the workforce. That's why it's crucial for workplaces to adapt in order to leverage millennials' unique set of skills and help them be successful.