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This column is part of Globe Careers' Leadership Lab series, where executives and experts share their views and advice about leadership and management. Follow us at @Globe_Careers. Find all Leadership Lab stories at tgam.ca/leadershiplab

Gen Y, Generation Connect, Gen Next, Generation Why?, millennials – whatever you want to call them, the emerging generation is creating a stir.

Why is that?

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The wants of any individual are greatly shaped by the culture that they grow up in. Ultimately, each one of us is always looking to find meaning and fulfilment in our lives, and our culture influences where we look for it.

For baby boomers, the culture was about getting a job to pay off a mortgage and give their family a good life. This was especially meaningful to accomplish considering the hardships their parents endured during the Great Depression and the Second World War Things happened at a relatively slower pace and the only social media were the family, friends and co-workers you interacted with in-person.

For Gen X, technology was slow growing and social media pretty much non-existent; however, looking at the success of the baby boomers before them, getting a job became more of an expectation rather than a meaningful accomplishment. Gen X thus turned their focus towards career advancement as their source of purpose and fulfilment. For many, the goal was to find ways to make it to the top of the ladder the fastest and live a better lifestyle.

For millennials, technology has been growing at an explosive speed and social media is now a norm. Both these cultural factors, plus the expectations built from the generations before them, are really impacting the wants of this generation.

Let's take a look at three ways you can better engage your young employees based on what they want:

Help them see meaning in their work

Struggling to find their place in an ever-growing and ever-changing world, millennials don't just want to work – they want a career that gives them purpose. This is why we sometimes hear the term Generation Why? – for millennials, context is everything.

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While many employers believe it's up to its employees to find their own meaning at work, assisting them can prove a huge benefit for a company. Bear in mind there's no real vocational guidance for young people these days and they are overwhelmed with so many choices and options.

Whether it's during the hiring process or performance reviews, helping ensure young employees are emotionally invested in their work will result in them being more productive, engaged and motivated. They won't just be doing their job, but rather fulfilling a purpose that empowers and excites them.

When hiring, ask them questions like:

  • How will this job bring you purpose?
  • Besides money, what excites you about this role?
  • How do you know this job will continue to excite you after you get hired?

For current employees, often times disengagement comes down to lack of perspective. It's not that they don't want to be there, they just haven't identified what they do. This is where the value of employee coaching can come in handy. Coaching is designed to help an individual identify their current perspectives and assist them in leveraging positive ones and changing negative ones to positive.

Keep your processes up to date

There's nothing more frustrating for a millennial than having to use systems that are outdated and inefficient. Growing up with the latest technology has set them up with high expectations when it comes to how to do things.

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While many processes might be highly depended on by your organization and expensive to change, it doesn't mean you can't explore other areas for improvement. The best part of having millennials on your team is you can leverage their expertise in technology.

A cool idea is to arrange a competition where employees can volunteer to pitch an idea (in front of the CEO) on how to evolve company systems and processes. Being heard and having their ideas recognized and valued is a huge intrinsic motivator.

Create a culture of trust

You'd do anything for your family, right? If that's the case, why not treat your organization as a family as well. The more you trust your employees, recognize their accomplishments, support them through struggles, and show genuine interest in their growth, the more they are going to reciprocate.

This is where a mix of executive coaching and consulting can help. Getting assistance in changing your perspective on millennials and their value can lead to more understanding, trust and positive interest. In addition, the consulting part will help you put in place systems that can nurture this trust and ensure it's in a constant state of development.

Ryan Coelho is a consultant, motivational coach and speaker.

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