This Is the Best Way to Engage Millennials at Work

Companies that deliver this to their employees outperform companies that don't, retain and engage Millennials better, and become beacons for top Millennial talent.

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According to Cornell University psychology professor Dr. Thomas Gilovich and colleagues Dr. Amit Kumar (University of Chicago) and Dr. Matthew Killingsworth (University of California), "Experiential purchases (money spent on doing) tend to provide more enduring happiness than material purchases (money spent on having). Waiting for experiences tends to be more pleasurable and exciting than waiting to receive a material good."

When people spend money on experiences, their satisfaction increases over time. When people spend money on material purchases, their satisfaction decreases over time. Also, people's experiential purchases are more closely associated with their identities, connections, and social behavior.

In addition, Dr. Gilovich says, "We feel more compelled to talk about our experiences and we get more out of doing so. Talking about experiences, furthermore, tends to be more socially rewarding as well."

It seems that employees view work as a material purchase, because, according to research done by Glassdoor, there is a clear relationship between years of experience and happiness at work. Older workers tend to be less satisfied. Each additional year of experience leads to a decrease in overall employee satisfaction.

Almost all recruiters--90 percent--say that the current job market is candidate driven, which is up from 54 percent in 2011. In today's global and candidate/employee market, focusing on the employee or candidate experience can be a competitive advantage--especially for garnering Millennials, who put a premium on experiences and have elevated expectations of how products, services, and employment are delivered to them. For example, 77 percent of Millennials say some of their best memories are from an event or live experience they attended or participated in.

The goal of employee experience is to shift Millennials' relationship with work from considering it like a material purchase, where satisfaction decreases over time, to an experiential purchase, where the anticipation of going to work is exciting and job satisfaction increases over time.

Delivering rich and rewarding employee experiences is the best (and most holistic) way to retain and engage Millennials.

Employee experience can be defined as the impact an organization's processes, policies, perks, and programs have on its people.

For Millennials who grew up in a world of abundance, their basic needs have been met, so they naturally look to fulfilling their higher needs. According to Maslow's hierarchy of needs, these would be love/belonging (social, love, family, team) and esteem (importance, recognition, respect). These are all benefits that can be delivered via carefully executed employee experiences.

Benefits and salary are expectations for Millennials. Millennials aren't interested in simply filling a job. Instead, they want meaning, strong company culture, and extraordinary experiences at work.

Millennials don't look to corporations for job security. Instead, they recognize that their networks and skills will provide any security and stability they seek. This new shift redirects the responsibility of the organization to deliver a place where folks want to show up instead of where they have to.

Jacob Morgan, author of The Employee Experience Advantage: How to Win the War for Talent by Giving Employees the Workspaces They Want, the Tools They Need, urges organizations, "We have to focus on designing employee experiences, which is the long-term organizational design that leads to engaged employees. This is the only long-term solution. Organizations have been stuck focusing on the cause instead of the effect. The cause is employee experience; the effect is an engaged workforce."

Research reveals that organizations that focus on employee experience far outperform organizations that don't. They develop and retain high performers, and become beacons for new top talent. And strong employee experiences drive strong customer experiences.

Creating engaging employee experiences is critical for companies wanting to engage Millennials and to win the war on next generation talent.

(This is 1 of the 47 strategies Ryan shares in his new book, The Millennial Manual: The Complete How-To Guide to Manage, Develop, and Engage Millennials at Work.)

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This article was originally posted on Ryan's column, Next Generation Insights.


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