Best Practices in Engaging the Millennial Workforce

At the 2015 Smart Manufacturing Summit in Indianapolis, attendees participated in an exchange of ideas and best practices on Engaging the Millennial Workforce. Their ideas and experiences are shared here.
  • The most important action leadership can take initially is to understand the desires and needs of millennials by listening and communicating with the workforce.
  • Leaders need to balance the need for ‘face time’ with measuring ‘work output’, no matter how employees structure their work or work time. (i.e. allowing for flexibility in when and how work is accomplished)
  • Giving flexibility to millennial employees does not mean that people do not want boundaries and expectations put in place. Even millennials want the reliability of policies, practices and processes in the workplace.
  • Leaders need to be careful not to apply a ‘one size fits all’ solution to working with millennials. Manufacturing environments have different requirements than do office environments. Workers in rural areas may have different expectations than those in urban areas.
  • The one important thing leaders can do is to be explicit about asking people to engage. Don’t assume millennials understand what your vision is or what you want them to do to live that vision.
  • Organizations can increase the use of social media and smartphone technology to communicate work-related information. Engage the technology that the new workforce is using.
  • Increase the use of apps that support the work being conducted.
  • Deploy millennial employees to take leadership roles, head important projects, recruit other millennials, giving them more visibility to other millennial employees.
  • Reengineer the workplace to better replicate the world that millennials come from (e.g. flexible time policies, access to public Wi-Fi, open/social work spaces, opportunities to engage/socialize in the workplace).
  • Be brutally honest in employment interviews about the realities of your workplace.
  • Put career planning programs in place to show millennials that there is a path to great growth and responsibilities.
  • Make sure to provide regular feedback aside from formal performance reviews in line with the regular flow of information that millennials are accustom to in the rest of their lives.
  • Include millennials in strategic planning processes to get them engaged early in key business initiatives.
  • Leaders would do well to get some awareness about how they and their company are viewed by millennials (e.g. engagement surveys, Glassdoor.com).
  • Leaders must first model the change they want to see in other leaders and in the broader organization (e.g. start blogging or using social media).
  • Bring millennials into the room more often in key business meetings/events to give them a new frame of reference and get their point of view.

Facilitator: Hank Provost, President, Organizational Strategies | (M) 720-648-2308


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