Relationships are the Key to Millennial Engagement

You’ve done it.


You attracted a highly-skilled young professional to your company and you both are in the throes of new hire bliss. The first few months fly by, but eventually, things start to change. Your millennial hire is growing bored. They’re uninspired; they feel restricted by unspoken rules and misaligned values. More than anything, they don’t see any room for growth in their current role. In the twilight of an employee’s dissatisfaction, they leave and cost you thousands in doing so. How do you stem the outflow of unhappy millennial employees? In part two of this series, we explore how to keep young workers engaged and happy in their careers.


When you have someone employed

What do you do once you’ve hired a millennial? You keep them engaged, and there are many different ways to do so. According to Dr. Deena C. Brown’s survey of millennial clients, most leaders have no idea how to be a great motivator. When I say motivation, most people think it involves dancing on chairs and shouting, but it has much more to do with getting to the root of what makes people tick. What do they like and enjoy doing, how do they fit into their work? What inspires people to act? That’s what motivation is.


Proper motivation, of course,  is a time investment on the managers’ part, and many people simply don’t know how or when to implement motivational tactics with their employees. Even if you’re strapped for time, you need to make an effort to understand what inspires your employees. If you invest the time, and they stay, explosive innovation often follows suit. Leadership is influence; how are you influencing millennials to do their best work?


Relationships Foster the Best Growth

We can’t say enough about relationships. Once you’ve built a relationship with an employee, you influence them and get them to higher levels of work engagement. And as I said in the first article of this series, the number one way to form a relationship with a person is to talk to them. Older generations insist they can’t communicate with Generation Y since their heads are always stuck testing. Well, send them a text and say you’d like to talk to them. No excuses: I promise there’s a way to connect with millennials. We often get so stuck in our way of doing things we hardly think outside the box. Do we want progress and growth or do we want to be right? Thus, adjustments must be made.


When you meet people on their level, seek to see where they’re coming from, it inspires trust and places you in a better place to motivate. It shows you care. It shows that their workspace is a safe place, where millennials can try new things and fail forward faster. Teach your new hires, let them know it’s okay to take risks and think outside the box. When they fail, sit down and talk to them about it. These changes in motivation and the stoking of millennials’ inner fire don’t happen overnight, but a repeated way of handling things paves the way for an innovative, engaged culture. Furthermore, your millennial hire sees your company as a home in which they can grow as professionals.


Employers can provide their millennial hires increased room for growth through clear communication. Dr. Brown’s C -3 framework highlights the values of clarity, consciousness and consistency. If you keep these ideas in mind when speaking with your employees, you’ll be able to influence their motivation authentically and collaborate effectively, inspiring compassion and confidence. Think: what kind of culture are you creating with your workers? If what you communicate with your millennial hires matches your mission and values, they’ll see the honesty in your work. Conversely, millennials know how to sniff out a lack of company clarity, and will walk away if too much confusion clouds the future.


Why do millennials leave?

Three major reasons get cited among millennials departing a particular company. First, a lack of clarity in their purpose. They have no idea how they will grow in this company; instead, they’re stuck in a box and will never grow because the boss thinks they’re capable of only X Y Z skills. Second, the company moves without intention. Millennials want to model their hard work and innovative attitude off of clear leadership, but if no leadership is demonstrated...what happens then? Clear intentions and direction come from the top down. Finally, execution. Millennials’ BIGGEST complaint is a lack of tools with which to do the jobs they’re given. An employer will tell an employee what they want them to do and walk away, leaving the person at a loss without wanting to ask questions for fear of looking stupid. It’s part of the onboarding process to enable employees to do their best work. Give them everything they need, and they’ll outshine your expectations.


Trust in the workplace, a solid ground of communication and a continual empowerment of employees allows for exponential growth among your company. You want to build up leaders, not a mass of followers, and like Amazon and In n Out, create a culture where you hire passionate innovators who drive your company to radical success. With these principles in place, you can engage your millennials to become tomorrow’s leaders and game-changers.



Dr. Deena C. Brown is an Executive Director and certified speaker, coach, and trainer with The John Maxwell Team. She is an international best-selling author and has been featured on ABC, NBC, CBS, and Fox as a highly sought keynote speaker, business and leadership growth expert.


She is affectionately known as The Millennial Whisperer. Her clients have identified her as The Catalyst because she makes Shift Happen. She is the founder of the Millennial Leadership Institute that provides leadership development and lifestyle coaching to Millennials. Her signature C3LeadershipTM Program helps professionals have more Clarity, Confidence, and Consistency by teaching how to Communicate with Influence, Connect Authentically, and Collaborate Strategically.

Dr. Brown’s expertise helps organizations and individuals build a clear path to significance that bridges their philosophy, vision, mission, and goals to their optimal organizational identity.




Rick Girard is the Founder & CEO of Stride Search in Orange County.  Rick brings world-class leadership to firms across the nation to meet highly challenging business and talent acquisition objectives. With expertise in creative sourcing, consultative management and winning placement strategies, Rick Girard plants the hiring seeds for his partners’ success.


While not running a School for Gifted Mutants as Professor X, Rick hosts Hire Power Radio Show, a weekly series on which serves as an entrepreneur’s resource to solve the most difficult hiring challenges. When not on the air, Rick regularly gives talks and writes valuable content for Hiring Managers and Job Seekers alike. His mission: elevate and sharpen the industry standards of exclusive professional search.

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