How Business Owners Can Earn the Loyalty of Their Millennial Workers


As an entrepreneur, I have been lucky enough to reside in a bubble, of sorts, that is full of small business optimism. According to the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB), small business optimism is nearing an all-time high. Business is booming, in spite of the changing tax law landscape, and smaller startups remain a backbone within the U.S. economy.

For non-entrepreneurs, the outlook is a bit more grim. The 2018 Deloitte Millennial Survey reveals that millennials, a generation set to inherit the global workforce as soon as the year 2020, are uneasy about the future. Much of their unease is centered around businesses that have chosen to prioritize the bottom line over team members, company culture, and society as a whole. As a result, millennial workers’ loyalty towards their companies has waned significantly.

Is there anything else that is causing millennial workers to lose faith in businesses? What can companies, both small and large alike, do to restore their hope—and their loyalty—before it is too late? Let’s take a closer look at the survey’s findings.

Poor leadership

The issue: Millennials expect those in leadership positions to be in it for more than a paycheck. Leaders should care about the mark they’re leaving behind in the world. The more positive and capable the leader is, the more the ripple effect extends to the entire organization and its surrounding community. This is not always the case for millennial workers, many of whom have worked under poor leaders and managers.

How can this problem be solved? The silver lining, according to the millennials surveyed by Deloitte, is more millennials believe business leaders are making a positive impact on the world. However, four in 10 surveyed see a negative impact being made by individuals in leadership roles.

This is a big problem to solve and one that will not happen overnight. However, one of the greatest keys to making changes now is to step up. Leaders must acknowledge what they can do to realign their priorities to match those of their team and the business itself.

Lack of diversity and flexibility

The issue: Diversity and inclusivity are appreciated by millennials in the workplace, as is flexibility in performing their work. Two-thirds of millennials who responded, however, do not see any of this in action. Leaders pay “lip service” to diversity and inclusion without taking action to make changes. Same goes for flexibility, where there’s not enough wiggle room to work remotely or within a more comfortable time frame.

How can this problem be solved? Diversity is not about filling a hiring quota or addressing issues in a one-time manner. Millennials are loyal to businesses possessing a forward-thinking mindset. These companies see what they may lack in diversity, inclusion, and flexibility, and are willing to make the changes necessary to boost workers’ performance and add to the overall ROI of the company.

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A lack of preparedness

The issue: Shifting gears from leadership and the workplace itself, let’s discuss Industry 4.0. This is the rise of AI and robotics which are altering the way we work. Millennials surveyed revealed they are concerned if they are prepared to succeed in this brave new world—an understandable worry for all ages.

How can this problem be solved? Two words: soft skills. For all workers advancing forward, it’s critically important for businesses to help their employees develop the right skills. Many millennials believe that soft skills, which may include problem-solving abilities and self-confidence, will gradually become more valuable over time. These are the skills businesses have, so far, not focused enough attention on for their staff. It may be time to turn the tide, for all ages, to ensure millennials have a bright future ahead of them.

RELATED: 12 Ways to Attract Millennial Talent

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