Engaging Millennials at Work

We often hear millennials been labelled as “lazy”, “needy” or “entitled” by the media. In contrast to the negative stereotype, a study done by Manpower Group in 2016 has debunked the myth. It showed that Singapore millennials work 48 hours a week and claimed the second longest working week in the world.

According to a LinkedIn survey in 2016, while millennials are proven diligent at work, they are also much more mobile than their predecessors. Millennial employees are much more likely to leave a job when feeling disengaged, in comparison to non-millennials who often say no to the idea of job-hopping. millennials

When companies pay insufficient attention to the needs of millennial workers, they may lose excellent employees to their competitors. This is especially critical when the workforce is heavily reliant on the millennial group. According to Manpower Group, 1.2 million millennials account for 20% of the workforce in Singapore today. By 2020, millennials will account for more than 30% of the global workforce. Millennials are a group of employees that organisations need to understand, engage and take care of. Below we share what millennials’ value, their priorities at work and how companies can engage them.   

Millennials highly value skills development

skills development


According to Lynda Teo, country manager at Manpower Group Singapore, 93% of their survey participants in 2016 indicated that skills development is a critical part of their future careers. In another study by Gallup, it is found that one of the top 3 criteria to retain millennials is “opportunities to learn and grow” and it is the only area of retention that differentiates millennials’ needs from those of other generations.

As millennials are driven, employers should step up their training and development strategies to meet their needs. A provision of relevant training courses and workplace learning is an effective approach to sharpen employees’ skills and enhance work results. Training goals should tie in with individual development and business improvement.

Improvement in capabilities opens more opportunities of promotion and recognitions. These opportunities and goals will motivate and enhance employees’ satisfaction with your company. The improvement in capabilities will address the “growth” element in the Gallup Q12’s Engagement Measurement model and brings about a higher employee engagement level.

engagement measurement model

Instant feedback and responses are helpful

instant feedback

Millennials demand rapid feedback and response in every aspect of their lives, and work is no exception. For a generation who are impatient and wants instant gratification, the traditional format of a yearly performance review may no longer be relevant.  It is important for them to know that their work does not go unnoticed by their supervisors or colleagues. Constant feedback about their performance, areas for improvement and praising them for their good work will satisfy their needs for being acknowledged and keep millennials more engaged.

Millennials desire flexibility and freedom

flexibility and freedom

 The latest study done by ManpowerGroup, Millennial Careers: 2020 Vision, states that millennial workers value flexibility and work-life harmony.

Technology has made it possible to work from a distance and allow for more flexible work arrangements. Employees can work remotely and be in control of their working hours, work breaks or work locations while maintaining productivity and performance. Indeed, more Singapore companies are beginning to adjust their policies to allow more flexibility as a strategy to retain the millennial talents. According to Business Insider, companies are slowing re-educating themselves and getting more receptive to the idea of flexible work arrangement than they were 5 years ago.

Another aspect that concern millennials is the freedom to use social media. The exploding growth of social media has significantly changed millennials’ lifestyles. Unlike the previous generation, millennials embrace the digital age and live their life online. This different way of lifestyle can be a cause for conflict when many employers restrict employees’ access to social media in the office. The restriction might frustrate the millennials’ energy, excitement and engagement at work. To ensure employees’ engagement without compromising productivity, companies need to educate their staff to be smart social media users, instead of giving them no freedom to use it.

Millennials work for a purpose

work for a purpose

According to a study by Kahn in 1990 , one key psychological condition associated with engagement is meaningfulness.

Millennials are the purpose-driven generation. They are constantly pursuing direction, meaning and happiness. If an organization is incapable to give them a sense of purpose and map out a clear-cut path towards their future growth, they will find the company less alluring. To engage millennials, an organization can convey to millennials its purpose, mission, values and goals clearly during the onboarding programs. A clear sense of purpose will engage them and help them to envision a future with your company.

Know your case

There is no one-size-fit-all solution to engage millennials at work. It is important for managers to diagnose their companies’ situation, conduct surveys and provide feedback channels for millennial employees to voice their thoughts and recommendations. With a deeper understanding of employees’ desire and what drives them, employers can create better strategies to address their interests, without compromising on productivity and business performance. 



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6 ways to keep your millennial employees from quitting

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Psychological conditions of personal engagement and disengagement at work




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