Dale Carnegie logoThe New Boom. Millennials. Generation Y. Call them what you will, the generation born between 1980 and 1996 are influential by virtue of their sheer numbers, but also because of their remarkable cultural and technological impacts on society. By 2015, millennials were projected to eclipse the baby boomer generation in size. It’s no wonder, then, that organizations and their leaders are realizing the importance of understanding how to engage millennials in the workplace. According to a recent report, millennials could become the most productive generation with the right combination of management and motivation.

In 2014, a new Dale Carnegie study examined how millennial engagement compares to the “older” members of the workforce (non-millennials) and how managerial millennials interact with non-managerial millennials and non-millennials. This study included over 300 participants; 50% were millennials, with the other 50% being older

non-millennials; 100 worked for companies with between 50 and 499 employees, 100 worked for companies with between 500 and 999 employees, and 100 for companies with 1,000 or more employees; all participants worked full time; the population was made up of 50 percent men and 50 percent women.

Why Millennials?

The question is: Why this interest in the millennial generation? Millennials will have immediate and long-term effects on society and are creating massive shifts in opinion on social issues. Millennials also have a distinct generational identity when it comes to how they interact with each other and with other generations.

The significance of our study points to a recurrent theme often indicated in millennial-focused research: a desire for balance between individualism and loyalty. This study suggests that for millennials, engagement may be linked more effectively to both personal gain (derived from recognition for bringing business to their employer) and a sense of fulfillment (derived from helping others find a good business partner) and loyalty.

Understanding the differences between millennials and non-millennials in the workplace and how to engage employees who are part of the millennial generation can lead to increased effectiveness in supervising and mentoring, which in turn can lead to workplace satisfaction, retention, motivation, and ultimately greater productivity.

Training Makes a Difference

When it comes to addressing feelings of inferiority and incompetence, the research indicated that training substantially increased positive trends among participants. Perhaps in an effort to help them feel more valued, confident, and connected, millennials want courses in leadership, public speaking, self-confidence building, and team management. Millennials specifically want online training courses that offer flexible hours, and content that keeps participants engaged.

Our study uncovered functional and emotional attributes that were above average in importance to millennial respondents including:

A workplace environment in which:

  • they are given help or support when needed
  • there are incentives for higher performance
  • there are flexible hours to allow a work-life balance
  • they can look forward to going to work
  • they are trusted to do their work and more
  • they can work with limited oversight


A supervisor who:

  • communicates openly and honestly
  • recognizes their contributions
  • is trustworthy and trusting
  • treats them with respect
  • helps them learn a lot
  • sets a good example
  • gives them reason to have confidence in that supervisor because of his/her leadership ability
  • demonstrates interest in the personal lives of people on his/her team


Millennials want: 

  • to be able to do work that’s varied and interesting
  • to work with senior management members who are honest with employees
  • to work for a company that encourages open communication between employees and management
  • an immediate supervisor who cares about their personal lives and the effects that has on their work
  • a good work-life balance


The good news is that supervisors and senior managers can make a big difference by seeking to close the gap on things that are important to millennials, but that they find missing in the workplace. This can include helping ensure they are doing work that varies and providing them with the ability to learn and develop beyond their current job/position. It can also involve ensuring there is focus on honesty and open communication among all levels of employees and senior management and that supervisors share a genuine interest in the personal lives of all team members.

The reality is that while statistical trends relating to multigenerational workforces are important, equally important is the insight that pathways to engagement often transcend generational differences.

If you are looking for ways to build employee engagement across multigenerational teams, Dale Carnegie Training can help build effective workplace environments typified by effective communication, value recognition, and motivation.

To learn how we can help your organization drive engagement and collaborate across generations, contact Elissa Ruckle at 307.277.4782 or Elissa.Ruckle@dalecarnegie.com.

Elissa Ruckle