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How to Engage (and Keep) Your Young Workers - Part 2: Action

Fri, 11/09/2012 - 4:26pm | by Elizabeth_Agnew

The way we’re working is changing, and as painful as the generation gap may feel, you can engage your young workers so that their differences are an asset. Here are four simple guidelines for how to engage your young workers to earn their trust, loyalty, and make your business better in the process.

1. Ask them what they think.

This one is tricky, because you have to mean it. Ask your young workers what they think about the decisions you have made that affect them. “What do you think about this project plan, new version of the roles and responsibilities, or the revised timeline?” Even though opening up for discussion a decision you’ve worked hard to make can seem scary, more input cannot hurt. More importantly, you’re sending the message that their input matters, making them feel heard. When you show such loyalty, it’s easily reciprocated. The worst thing you can do to your young workers is assume they have nothing to offer on these topics.

2. Be transparent.

This actually goes for any of your workers, but the young ones especially are sensitive to what’s going on. When you, as the leader, share your thought process with your workers, you display openness and a willingness to be human, flexible, and vulnerable. This will go a long way in earning the trust and respect of your young workers.

3. Acknowledge their impact.

It’s widely known that young people want to make a difference. It’s typically interpreted by senior staff to mean that young workers are on a power trip and want to be CEO their second week on the job. Really, they just want to have an impact. Make it clear to your workers how their day-to-day efforts actually affect the company's mission.

4. See them as who you know they can become.

Millenials want mentors who will see their potential. Not just as who they are now: green, eager, naïve, but for who they will become. Millennials are not at fault for the change that’s happening in the way we work – they’re just its messengers. Young workers are riding in on the wave of a whole world that is waking up. They yearn to interact truthfully, respect mutually, and experience life fully – at the office. And honestly, who – of any age – doesn’t? It’s time.

(photo by Ed Yordon)

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