Getting Through to Generation Y: Five Key Elements for Engaging Your Youngest Employees

Stuart Sinclair - September 25, 2015

Whatever your business, both current and future employees will be drawn from the Millennials, aka Generation Y, those aged between 18 and 34 in 2015. It's a diverse group spanning those born in the early 1980s to your youngest employees, but they will probably share many characteristics that will affect how they engage with your business, according to an article at

In her article, author Amy Blackburn points to five key areas where Generation Y's expectations may differ from their predecessors.

1. Knowing Your Company Goals
Company goals are not something Generation Y want to discover on page 120 of their induction manual. It's something they want to know about upfront at the time of application, along with your mission statement and your definition of their job's role and responsibilities. As Blackburn suggests:

"This tactic will allow employees to better understand where your company is headed and how they can help you get there."

2. Mentor AND Manager
Today's managerial style should be less about supervision and more about coaching and mentoring. Managers need to show that they genuinely wish the employee to do well and succeed. This isn't exactly anything new, but reflects more a shift in emphasis from strict supervision towards supportive involvement. Smart use of technology and communications can ensure that the employee can be supported both in person and remotely, allowing both freedom to develop and easy to access support where required.

Not sure which internal communication channels are the best fit for your  business? Our ‘Engage for Success’ toolkit can help.

3. Classroom-bred Collaboration
As Blackburn points out, today;s Generation Y have been raised in an atmosphere of collaboration.

"Members of Generation Y spent much of their educational career participating in group projects, learning not only from their educators but from one another, as well."

Effective employee engagements systems and solutions should therefore make collaboration and cooperative working as accessible and and straightforward as possible.

Read What is employee engagement in reality?


4. Shared Beliefs
Generation Y don't just want to work for any company, they want to work with a business that shares their beliefs and values. Businesses with a strong culture of care and corporate responsibility are more likely to be attractive to the next generation of workers, as they believe that a company that cares about a cause is more likely to care about them too. Again, effective communication and dissemination of company ethos is a crucial part of employee engagement, along with the ability for employees to act to serve that cause through volunteer days or collaborative projects.


5. Flexible Work Options
This generation may not have all grown up with a smartphone in their hands, but they understand the possibilities of remote working more clearly than their older colleagues. Providing Generation Y with the opportunity to work flexible hours, and to use reliable, existing technologies to work remotely will be both appealing and practical to them, as well as beneficial to the business.

Read 13 Fantastic Employee Engagement Ideas


Not Just for Gen Y
At the root of Blackburn's article is one guiding principle: employee engagement is fundamentally about communication. Information and ideas must be able to flow from company to employee, from employee to management, and most crucially, between employees. Without that information flow, employees will have neither the information or motivation to offer ideas, and to develop those ideas into practical innovations for the business.

Those of us who have been involved in innovation management for years will know this from our own experiences, but Generation Y is probably the first working age group with the desire for cooperative working hard-wired in, so to speak. All we have to do as managers is to provide an attractive, accessible environment and Gen Y will lead the way for others too.

If you're struggling to find a suitable Generation Y solution that also works for the rest of your business colleagues, call us here at Talkfreely.

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