3 Steps To Ignite The Passion Of Millennial Employees

Millennials – that oft-discussed group of people born between the 1980s and early 2000s – now make up the majority of employees at large corporations, but they continue to bear the brunt of jokes about workplace communication and collaboration habits.

Yes, it’s true that millennials don’t like to use their desk phone. Yes, a large percentage prefer to communicate electronically at work rather than face-to-face. But perhaps this aversion to outdated working styles stems from an innate desire for efficacy: three-quarters of millennials said in a recent PwC survey that they believe access to technology makes them more effective at work.

One company that has figured out how to leverage this preference for efficiency is Dow Chemical. Here are 3 steps they took to ignite the passion of their millennial employee base, of which more than half was under the age of 32.

1. Connect day-to-day work to the company strategy. Millennials require that their work carries meaning, purpose and be tightly aligned with the future direction of the company. To achieve this, Dow began using CorpU’s platform, which draws upon concepts modeled after social media and consumer web features, to communicate strategy to the company’s global employee base in more than 200 locations across the world. Staff was welcomed to comment and post questions directly to senior executives, empowering them to not just absorb, but influence, the larger mission at hand.

“Today’s workforce must be adaptable, and continuously learning and finding new ways to do work faster, smarter and better.”

2. Create engaging software user-experiences. Dow realized that technology-enabled collaboration could solve tough problems. Rather than pulling employees out of the work environment and into classrooms to listen to the experts, technology enabled Dow to facilitate real-time collaboration across the supply chain and “livestream” experts into structured dialogues, to engage with employees as they solve real-world problems.

3. Inspire continuous improvement and learning. As Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said to all of his employees, “become a learn-it-all, not a know-it-all.” And it would seem that Dow’s Corporate Vice President of Integrated Supply Chain agrees: “Today’s workforce must be adaptable, and continuously learning and finding new ways to do work faster, smarter and better.” To succeed in the future of work, all generations must believe in lifelong learning and CEOs or learning executives must embody it.

Other companies would be wise to follow in Dow’s footsteps. These big changes in workplace collaboration aren’t going to stop with millennials, and the next generation – Generation Z – is already joining the workforce.

Stay ahead of the curve.

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Alan Todd

Alan Todd, Founder and CEO of CorpU, is regarded as one of the world’s pre-eminent authorities on strategy and leadership. A former Inc. Magazine/Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, Todd’s writing and commentary have appeared in Forbes, Fortune, Fast Company, and Wired, and his insights are routinely solicited from Fortune 1000 companies like Walmart, Coca-Cola, Boeing, and Johnson & Johnson. His technical innovations in Strategy Activation are powering global growth for companies with combined annual revenues of over $1 trillion.
He is a co-founder of Harrisburg University and a past trustee or advisor to Dickinson College, Penn State University, and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business and Graduate School of Education. He completed his master and doctoral studies at both Wharton and Penn GSE.