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Business Services, Survey

Engage Millennial Employees with Feedback and Evaluation

By Amelia Peacock
December 07, 2016

Part 3 of 4: Clutch HR Employee Feedback Survey 2016

 

Now that millennials make up more than half of the American workforce, managers and HR professionals are increasingly concerned with how best to cater the workplace to millennial needs. Hundreds of resources and step-by-step guides recommend everything from nontraditional employee benefits like telecommuting and flexible leave to glamorous team retreats to help managers bolster their millennial appeal. And perhaps these guides aren’t a bad idea. Generational shifts in the workplace can cause stress on employee fulfillment, especially when managers aren’t attentive to the changing expectations of their employees.

However, HR experts in a recent Clutch interview argue that one of the best ways to appeal to the millennial demographic is simpler, though perhaps more difficult, than providing flashy employee perks. Namely, the best way to keep millennial employees engaged is through consistent, accurate, and immediate employee feedback. Clutch surveyed millennial (N=428), Gen X (N=422), and Baby Boomer (N=150) full-time employees to take a closer look at employee feedback in the workplace and how it can help, or hurt, millennial engagement.

 

 

Why are we worried about keeping millennials happy?

According to the Clutch survey, millennials are less likely to be fulfilled at work and more likely to quit than older age demographics. 

  • Of the millennials that took part in the survey, 32% are likely to leave their job within the next six months. Only 11-12% of older employees are likely to quit in that same timeframe.
  • 40% of millennials do not consider themselves fulfilled at work, which is nearly 2 times greater than Gen-X employees and almost 4 times greater than Baby-Boomers.

There are many reasons why millennials statistically find less fulfillment in their careers: they tend to crave a “laundry list” of nontraditional perks, they haven’t yet singled out a permanent career path, and they tend to work less interesting, entry-level positions. Most importantly, millennial communication styles are at odds with formal year-end performance reviews common to most businesses in the United States.

Managers attempting to increase millennial engagement may struggle to meet all of these expectations. Indeed, often while providing nontraditional employee perks like travel, flexible vacation time, and remote work can help attract millennials to your business, perks won’t be enough to guarantee that your millennial employees are engaged and fulfilled in their work long-term. What can have a lasting effect is immediate and consistent feedback from the managerial staff.

Clutch’s survey supports expert opinion that managerial feedback and evaluation are tied to millennial fulfillment.

  • Of the millennials whose managers do provide accurate and consistent feedback, 72% find their job fulfilling.
  • Of the millennials whose managers do not provide accurate and consistent feedback, only 38% find their job fulfilling.

A communicative and supportive manager is indicative of a work environment that allows for the kind of growth and self-exploration many millennials crave early in their careers.

Are Millennials Just Being “Sensitive”?

One of the most common criticisms levied against the millennial generation is that they are too demanding of their workplace and their managers. Because experts point to feedback and evaluation as a vital aspect of millennial engagement, it is important to address this criticism: are millennials unfulfilled simply because they are judging their managers too harshly? Why should managers drastically change their actions when millennials are just expecting too much?

The Clutch survey shows that millennials are just as harsh as older generations when it comes to judging the evaluative success of their manager. Slightly under 60% of each generation agrees that their manager accurately and consistently evaluates their performance, millennials included. Indeed, millennials aren’t judging their managers unfairly, they just don’t seem to resonate with the traditional communication styles most managers employ.

“The more traditional models of providing feedback are less liked by Millennials. They want more emphasis on instant feedback and the immediate connection to the work that they're doing,” Joe Carella, Assistant Dean for the Eller College of Management, University of Arizona explains. “In general, Millennials are more collaborative than previous generations are. That collaboration means they are more open to continuous exchanges about the work that gets done, which in turn translates to the openness and the desire for more immediate feedback.”

It is not that managers are doing a worse job at providing feedback to millennials, or that millennials are judging their managers too harshly, but that the type of feedback managers offer isn’t working.

What Can Managers Do to Keep Millennials Around?

Clutch’s survey shows that while millennials aren’t excessively judging their managers, there are still 41% of them who feel neutral to negative on their manager’s ability to provide accurate and consistent feedback. This statistic represents a huge missed opportunity for managers attempting to decrease millennial attrition at their company.

So, how can managers remedy this problem?

Clutch’s survey asked employees to name the types of feedback they receive from their managers. Only 23% of millennials said they received the informal/ad-hoc feedback that experts favor over traditional communication methods. One of the first steps employers can take towards bettering their millennial employees’ workplace experience is by offering a more varied and more suitable feedback system.

“I was surprised that informal and ad hoc feedback wasn't higher for millennials [in Clutch’s study] because that's what they need,” said Morgan Chaney, Head of Marketing for employee rewards and recognition company Blueboard. “Hopefully that changes as more companies are aware of the notion of informal or real-time feedback.” Creating a feedback system that is genuine, consistent, and immediate will set you on the path to better retain young talent and create a work environment that fosters their desire to grow professionally and personally. 

Adopting a new feedback processes is not limited to benefiting millennial employees. As Morgan Chaney points out, “What [millennials] want and what they thrive in is actually what a lot of people would probably thrive in… Obviously, we would all do very well with passion and purpose in our career, but older segments have just been used to the status quo and have really different motivators.” Adopting nontraditional communication in the office can benefit every employee, not only the youngest generations.

 

For the first part of this survey, check out Clutch’s expert interviews with leading HR professionals.

For the second part of this survey, check out how small businesses struggle to provide employee feedback.

About the Survey

Clutch's survey included 1,000 respondents who are fulltime employees in the United States.

Respondents worked at companies with 1 to 50 employees (38%), 51 to 4,999 employees (43%), and 5,000+ employees (20%).

Data was collected throughout September 2016.

Reach out to [email protected] with questions or comments.