Attracting and Engaging Millennials Is Much More Than Beer Carts and Slurpee Machines

By Tiffany Jones 

The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that by 2030 millennials will make up 75 percent of the workforce. The business challenges and opportunities that this statistic creates was a key topic of discussion at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s “Attracting and Engaging Millennials” event. Nearly 100 attendees heard from executive leaders on how to engage and maintain the most qualified millennial employees. The event was held on Wednesday, April 12 at the Greektown Casino-Hotel and emceed by Alexandra Bahou of WXYZ- TV7.

Maximizing Talent in a Multi-Generational Workforce

This discussion was led by Dominic Andwan and Craig VanRaemdonck, both from PwC, and centered around the results of a global survey that was conducted in collaboration with University of Southern California and London Business School to find out what motivated employees. Among the research, the responses from Generation X and millennials were very different. While Generation X was more concerned with control over work, development opportunities and pay satisfaction, millennials ranked team cohesion, supervisor support and appreciation, and flexibility as higher motivators.


Creating an Employee-Focused Environment

How you make a cultural change and not a cultural clash was the focus of this discussion led by Matt Bertman of Amerisure Insurance, Deidre Bounds of Ignite Social Media, Melissa Price of dPOP!, and Matthew Rossetti of ROSSETTI. The panel, moderated by Ashley Woods of the Detroit Free Press, discussed how to create environments that are engaging, comfortable and stimulating. Key takeaways included:

  • Be open and honest with communication. Millennials want to feel valued and know that their ideas are being heard.
  • Encourage the entrepreneurial spirit (create a purpose).
  • Have flexibility of where and when work needs to get done (flexible work hours).
  • Create great workspaces – indoors and outdoors.
  • Encourage the philosophy that working hard and playing hard can co-exist.
  • Be dedicated to strike the right work and home balance and have top management buy-ins
  • No matter the industry, employees must be committed to creating and respecting a culture for everyone.

Engagement Strategies to Improve ROI, Productivity and Employee Satisfaction

Sean Jackson of Sift, Mark Lanfear of Kelly Services, Angie Rohrer of Stryker and Tim Smith of Skidmore Studio led the panel discussion moderated by Lizz Glenn of Dale Carnegie Training that discussed how leadership can leverage technology and data to develop strategies that can impact retention, productivity and employee satisfaction. Key takeaways included:

  • Don’t concentrate just on millennials. Everyone can benefit from better engagement strategies.
  • Develop metrics. Measure what you manage. Having a baseline will help inform you on where you need to go.
  • Don’t group everyone together. Some millennials have Generation X personalities and vice versa. Stop labeling and stereotyping. One size doesn’t fit all.
  • It’s an oxymoron, but don’t try to retain employees. Equip them with all the tools and take all the energy they give, if only for a set amount of time. If you respect them enough to train them for their next job, chances are they may stick around longer.

Tiffany Jones is the director of communications at the Detroit Regional Chamber. 

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