If you believe the headlines, job hopping is all the rage with the millennial workforce. A recent study found that 45% of millennial employees planned to stay with their current company for two years or less. What’s more, recent research conducted by Deloitte, stated that by 2025, over 75% of the workforce will be millennials.

Millennials, also known as Gen Y (people born between 1982 and 2000), are the largest living generation in history. More importantly, they are the first generation to have grown up with technology at their fingertips, having been raised with social media, apps, on-demand entertainment, information and news.

In order to attract and retain their talent, employers have to understand employee engagement for this new generation of employees.

A shift in values

If you want to keep your millennials happy, you need to know their values, goals and motivations. As much as baby boomers value financial stability, good health benefits and a regulated 9-to-5 job, millennials have their own set of values and needs; and they couldn’t be more different.

When applying for a new job, millennials put a high priority on what a company stands for and its reputation, but also on work culture, ethics, social and environmental causes and personal development. The work ethic is also changing, as millennials prefer to work smarter rather than harder, using technology to work at their full potential.

While money is still important, what millennials ultimately want is to be happy. Over 60% of millennials would prefer a job that pays $40,000 but makes them happy, than a $100,000 paycheck for a boring job.

So the million-dollar question – what makes them happy? Using their creativity, working in teams, and being involved in different projects are all part of the package. Forming real relationships with their peers and leaders is also an important factor. Millennials crave personal relationships with their managers and want their employers to be interested in them as a person as well as an employee.

Organising monthly team building events, workshops and leisure activities will help them feel more connected with their co-workers. It will also help to make work a fun place to be, and not just a daily grind.

Work–life balance is everything

A strict 9-to-5 job with two weeks of vacation each year is simply not an option for most millennials. Instead, they believe in designing their lifestyle around their work, family, friends and passions.

A common passion is travel, which is often placed at the very centre of their lifestyle. Flexibility at work is key here. Millennials are skilled with technology and use it to work when and where they want, allowing many to work remotely rather than locally. The option to work remotely, even just part-time, is a huge draw for millennials, as it lets them take control of their schedule. Many start-ups and big corporations are already implementing a work from home or remote policy.


One of the main driving forces of millennial employees is knowing that their work matters. This applies to their own day-to-day work as much as it does to the company’s overall mission and purpose.

Millennials want to make the world a better place and they need to feel they belong to something bigger than themselves. Six out of ten millennials quoted a sense of purpose as the main reason they chose their current company. Communicating a company’s goals and mission (not just making a profit) with your team is crucial to make them feel involved and that their daily work is serving a greater purpose. This should be an ongoing process.

Cause is king

This topic is closely related to purpose, but goes even further. Charitable causes and volunteering are very important, with 9 out of 10 millennials stating they’d choose the company with the strongest corporate social responsibility.

While company-wide giving and fundraising campaigns are valued, donating money is not enough anymore. Instead, employers should enable millennials to get actively involved in a cause. They want to use their skills, talents and creativity to benefit non-profit organisations or communities. Most millennials prefer to join a team volunteering project rather than volunteer individually.


Employers can wave their annual performance reviews goodbye. Ok, maybe not quite – millennials want more feedback, and they want it now.

Top down, bottom up and especially peer-to-peer feedback are all incredibly important. The way in which feedback is presented is also crucial. Whether it’s positive or negative, it should always include specific and practical advice on how performance can actually be improved.

Regular check-ins to make sure this advice is being implemented should also be arranged.

Millennials are a diverse, connected and independent generation. It might take a little while to understand their needs and adjust your current employee engagement strategies accordingly. But, it will be well worth the effort as this creative, driven and idealistic generation has a lot to offer to employers around the globe.

Do you have novel ways to keep your millennial workforce happy? Please share in the comments below.

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