Millennial Workers Mostly Disengaged

A photo by David Marcu. unsplash.com/photos/JZXAr--Qdf4In what is believed to be the most comprehensive study of millennial workers yet, Gallup researchers have concluded that most Millennials (71%) are either not engaged or disengaged at work. Since they will comprise up to 75% of the workforce by 2025, the finding is a major cause for alarm.

The report, How Millennials Want to Work and Live, found widespread lack of engagement across sectors and found that six in 10 Millennials are open to exploring other jobs. More alarming, however, is the fact only 50% of Millennials plan to still be working for their current employer a year from now. As reported in Gallup’s own press release for the study, the low level of worker engagement among Millennials is troubling on a number of fronts:

Gallup’s latest meta-analysis shows that business units in the top quartile of employee engagement are 17% more productive, suffer 70% fewer safety incidents, experience 41% less absenteeism, have 10% better customer ratings and are 21% more profitable compared with business units in the bottom quartile.

Key Findings

The following are just some of the key findings in the Gallup study on Millennials in the workplace:

  • Only 29% of Millennials are engaged at work.
  • Another 16% of Millennials are disengaged (more or less out to do damage to their company).
  • The majority of Millennials (55%) are not engaged.
  • 21%of millennials report changing jobs within the last year (three times the number of non-Millennials who report changing jobs).
  • Millennial turnover in the workforce costs the U.S. economy an estimated $30.5 billion each year.
  • Manager and employee relations matter to Millennials; Millennials who meet with their managers on a regular basis report feeling more engaged at work.

How to Raise Millennial Engagement in the Workplace

As suggested above, rates of disengagement are higher for Millennials than other groups—even notoriously cynical Generation Xers—and with Millennials about to take over many workplaces, the risks of this disengaged workforce are also potentially high. What the Gallup study suggests, however, is that some strategies can be implemented to mitigate, if not entirely fix, the engagement problem.  As reported in the Gallup study:

millThe relationship between manager and employee represents a vital link in performance management. As is often the case, communication is crucial for that relationship to succeed. Millennial workers are more engaged than non-millennials when their managers provide frequent and consistent communication and feedback. Forty-four percent of millennials who report that their manager holds regular meetings with them are engaged ― contrasting sharply with the 20% of engaged millennials who do not agree that their manager meets with them regularly. This finding is similar to older generations; 43% of non-millennials who report their manager holds regular meetings with them are engaged.

Among the report’s specific recommendations is the need to hold regular meetings and provide consistent feedback. But unfortunately, this doesn’t appear to be the norm in most workplaces:

Gallup found that only 21% of millennials and 18% of non-millennials meet with their manager on a weekly basis. The majority of employees—56% for millennials and 53% for non-millennials—say they meet with their manager as infrequently as less than monthly.

Why Millennials Like More rather than Less Feedback on Performance

While older generations often reject constant feedback on their performance (with some cynical Generation Xers likening the practice to a sort of high-tech form of McCarthy-era surveillance), Millennials crave ongoing feedback. In many respects this is not a surprise. The Millennial generation grew up with metrics. By the 1990s, testing was on the rise in school systems nationwide and by the time most Millennials entered college, online learning management systems were already the norm. They often went through college, if not also high school, being able to constantly track their grades and performance. They were also more likely to have experienced various forms of peer-review prior to entering the workforce than their older colleagues. In short, they are a generation that arrived in the workplace already accustomed to working with and in response to various metrics, making constant feedback the norm. Gallup’s advice to managers? Increase the scope and frequency of your performance reviews to keep Millennials engaged, because they are about to takeover the workplace.

September 1, 2016   Updated :November 23, 2016   employee engagement, engagement, millennials   

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