Millennial Workforce


Spoiled, Lazy & Conceited – Shifting Perceptions to Engage Millennials

Stress-free strategies for cultivating passion in business.

Photo: Times Jobs

By 2030, millennials or Gen Y will account for 75% of the global workforce. (1,2) Engaging this young and technologically savvy group requires innovative tactics. What worked for past generations may not necessarily produce the same outcomes for Gen Y. Currently, 72% of U.S. employees are disengaged or actively disengaged. The high cost of employee turnover is estimated at 1.5 to 3 times an employee’s salary. This is due to the cost of recruitment, loss of institutional knowledge, training new hires, loss of member relationships and impact on morale. Therefore, it is vital that employers understand generational differences in order to implement effective interventions that foster employee commitment and retention. While the media has often painted Gen Y unfavorably—entitled and self-absorbed—the truth behind the millennial mindset is likely more complex. With increased attention, researchers are now examining the motivations of Gen Y for the purposes of cultivating corporate environments for the modern age.


Table 1. Definitions of Generations

Name Span of Birth Years
Baby Boomers 1944-1964
Gen X 1965-1980
Millennials (Gen Y) 1981-1995

In a 2016 study by Indiana University, 1,798 retail workers were surveyed in order to examine generational mindsets and whether a positive work environment was associated with employee loyalty. (1) Researchers found that when compared to Gen X or Baby Boomers, millennials had drastically different perceptions of work, especially in regards to the concepts of duty, drive and reward. Additionally, millennials did not conceptually link organizational commitment with workplace culture. Therefore, having a positive workplace environment is not enough for millennials to stay committed to a particular company. Instead, they seek organizations that meet their needs for contribution and fulfillment.

Based on the findings in this study, numerous strategies are recommended to engage millennials in a manner that minimizes stress. For example, managers could adjust their performance appraisal process by showing millennials how their work positively supports organizational objectives and goals. Doing so cultivates a greater sense of meaning and commitment to the team. It also addresses three traits that researchers have found to be prominent in the millennial mindset: teamwork, communication with superiors, and frequent feedback. Reframing concepts of duty, drive and reward can ultimately facilitate a more productive environment, with a workforce that is committed, passionate and loyal. By embracing differences and acting with empathy, corporate leaders are shaping workplace environments that foster employee well-being.millennial-workforce-2020

Recommendations for engaging millennials:

Cultivate Duty

Show how individual work connects to the larger team goals.

Encourage Resilience

Frame failure as a positive learning experience that encourages alternative actions.

Support Innovation

Position work requests in terms of the larger organizational context.

Increase Communication

Promote frequent interaction with superiors through a performance evaluation plan that increases organizational communication.

Provide Feedback

Frequently assess activities and provide tangible evidence of appreciation.



Photo: Metro Fax

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