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They're the youngest generation in the workforce and have already demonstrated a willingness to job-hop unlike any generation before them. The recent Gallup poll on engagement that is derived from data captured during 2014 indicates that while overall engagement levels are up nearly two percentage points from 2013, the Millennial group are the least engaged of all four groups that comprise the workforce. Worse news yet is that almost 70 percent of the workforce are still in the "not engaged" or "actively disengaged" categories according to the Gallup statistics.

With only 28.9 percent of Millennials actively engaged, the consensus is that although the economy may be improving, this group may not be getting the jobs they were expecting coming out of college. Of the 23,413 respondents surveyed by Ng et al for their article  “New Generation , Great Expectations: A Field Study of the Millennial Generation”, almost 70 percent of Millennials expected to get a promotion by the end of 18 months in their first job.

Members of this generation are less likely to leave a job if they are challenged appropriately, are doing work that they believe makes a difference of some kind, and feel fairly compensated for their work in terms of salary and benefits (Dries et al. 2008). The Gallup findings indicate that investing in employee selection, strengths, and well-being can boost engagement results. It is not enough to put the right people in the right jobs. Companies must invest in their employees’ greatest talents to optimize their performance.

The hard work of retaining Millennial talent begins the day your hire them. Gallup figures show that engagement levels are highest during the first six months on the job. That being said, only 52% of the people surveyed said they were engaged at this point. The bottom line is that there is lots of work to be done to improve the on boarding process. During the first 6 months on the job, integration, communication and orientation are critical if you're going to impact retention numbers with Millennials that you've hired. 

The best opportunity for employees to grow and develop is to identify the ways in which they most naturally think, feel, and behave, and then build on those talents to create strengths, or the ability to consistently provide near-perfect performance in a role. We use the McQuaig Self-Development Survey to help our clients identify specific strengths they can help their employers to leverage during their careers. The Gallup study highlights the fact that employees who feel engaged at work and who can use their strengths in their jobs are more productive and profitable, stay longer, have happier customers, and produce higher quality work.

Here's how you can help employees to develop and use their greatest talents:
  • Never assume that a person knows what their strengths are or how they can use them to best advantage. 
  • Give people, especially Millennials, the opportunity to apply their strengths in team settings. Sharing who does what well within a team is a great starting point. I often get teams to share their individual perceptions of other team members strengths in a group setting.
  • Help the people on your team to align their strengths to the expectations and responsibilities of their current role.
  • Build strengths into performance conversations you have with employees. The more often you talk about strengths the sooner you will develop a strengths based culture.
  • Help the people on your team to develop a strengths based personal development plan. What strengths can they leverage to improve capability in one or two areas of development opportunity?
 


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