The Truth about Gen Y: Why Employee Engagement is Essential for Companies

Submitted by Emmett Mehan on Jan 27, 2014 | Comments (0)

Millennials do pro bonoNetwork For Good has just released the 2014 Millennial Engagement Guide. Check it out today!

Have you heard about the Millennials? According to some, they are a generation of lazy and entitled narcissists (thanks, Time Magazine). Turns out, though, that might not actually be the case. True, they appear more demanding of both recognition and compensation. And the average Gen Y tenure at a company is just two years (compared with five for Gen X and seven for Baby Boomers). But this doesn’t make them disloyal employees, as you might be wont to conclude.

The truth is, there’s a new social contract between employers and workers. Companies can no longer expect eternal loyalty and retention as a thank-you for being hired. Millennials, who in ten years will make up the majority of the workforce, require mentorship, growth opportunities, and useful feedback from their managers. But more than anything, interestingly, Millennials want their careers to drive social impact, not just economic value. In fact, 84% of Millennials prioritize global citizenship above professional recognition.

The implication? Companies can no longer conduct business as usual. According to the Engagement Guide, Millennials value corporate citizenship more than salary, job flexibility, and even corporate culture. And with Millennials representing the fastest growing demographic in the workplace – and turnover costing an average $24,000 per employee – companies have needed to become more competitive as ever in the labor market.

The solution? Well, there are a few. Adopting responsible business practices might be enough for some companies to stay in the game. But be wary; most leading thinkers on this topic agree that Millennials are not easily fooled by empty PR stunts. And while responsible practices are certainly a good start, a smart company likely realizes that a reputation as “not-unethical” is probably the bare minimum.

Employees, especially Millennials, thrive when they are engaged in the workplace and developing as professionals. When you mix those in with social impact, and you’ve got the key to Millennial engagement. Need an example? Read up on corporate pro bono programs. Pro bono service yields over 400% the return on investment of traditional volunteering, and has been widely demonstrated to provide unparalleled professional development for employees.

Pro bono service complements existing training and development programs, and provides significantly greater opportunity to build work-related skills than traditional volunteering. Makes sense, right? Would an HR associate prefer to work on a team building a performance management strategy for a nonprofit, or paint a fence at the local community center? Well, one option is three times as likely to help the organization operate more effectively while the volunteer hones professional skills. The other is 100% more likely to result in paint all over the volunteer’s clothes.

Millennials may be needier than past generations, but they’re not unreasonable. They crave engagement. And they’ve made their position clear: Corporate citizenship is no longer just good PR; it’s a mandatory business strategy.

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