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Top tips for engaging and retaining a millennial workforce...

According to recent statistics by PwC, by 2020 millennials will make up around 50 per cent of the workforce. The millennial generation are often painted to be lazy workers, and while it would be wrong to tar all this generation with the same brush, all signs suggest that employee engagement is at an all-time low. A report released by Engage for Success found that only a third of UK workers are actually engaged at work. More importantly, it also found that rectifying this wasted opportunity could help boost the UK economy by a staggering £26 billion.

A recent survey we conducted into absenteeism in the workplace also found that 57 per cent of people surveyed said they had rang in sick, despite not being ill in the past three years. These are concerning statistics and suggest that much more needs to be done to engage and retain this emerging group of employees.  

In order to retain this younger workforce and to keep them engaged and happy at work, there are a number of steps that businesses can take:

Put an emphasis on personal development
Millennials are interested in more than just a healthy pay-check at the end of the month and so workplaces that prioritise personal development are particularly attractive. Companies can show their willingness to progress its younger workforce by investing in learning and development opportunities and training to keep employees' skill sets up to date and relevant.

Be flexible
A survey conducted by Deloitte in 2014 cited ‘flexible working conditions’ and ‘better work life integration’ as top priorities for millennials in a workplace. Interestingly, our research findings were comparable and found that 42 percent of employees would be less likely to be absent from work if their employers offered flexible working hours.

In many workplaces, standardised working hours are becoming a thing of the past as technological advancements mean workers are no longer confined to their desks and can plug in remotely. For employers wanting to attract millennials it would be wise to introduce ‘flexi-time’ schemes where employees can choose the hours they work. Employers could also think about providing canteen service for workers or an on-site gym, for example, to help save time travelling to and from the office to run various errands.

Promote transparency
Millennials are entrepreneurial in spirit; a US survey by Bentley University found that 67 per cent of those surveyed said their goal involves starting their own business.

With this in mind, employers should attempt to incorporate transparency into the office culture as it will allow employees to feel more involved in the business and ensure they feel that their opinion is counted. This could be done by encouraging all employees, including CEOs, to interact on social media and consider being more frank about finances.

Make an impact
Millennials feel more of a social obligation to do something meaningful and make real, positive change, compared to previous generations. A recent survey by Deloiite found that 75 per cent of millennials believe businesses are too focused on their own agendas, and do not put enough emphasis on improving the wider society. Because of this, it is recommended that employers invest in CSR campaigns and consider what they can do to be of benefit to the wider community.   

Empower employees
A positive working environment should be built upon trust, as employees are more likely to stay in a role if they feel they are given freedom and control over their working lives.

HR professionals can give back some control by using workforce management systems which allow workers to access information such as hours worked and rotas, as well as request holidays without directly involving HR departments.

The timeware® ESS terminal, for example, allows employees to check their holiday entitlements, request leave up to three years in advance, view their scheduled rota and check the hours they’ve worked – and staff members can even email this information to themselves from the device. These facilities can also be accessed via a phone, tablet or computer when the employer cannot gain access to the terminal.

To compete with other businesses, employers must do all they can to engage and retain their millennial workforce. In order to provide a positive working environment that appeals to a younger workforce, businesses must try to integrate flexibility and transparency into the office culture and build relationships based on trust and reward.