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February 17, 2016

The Secret to Keeping Millennials Engaged Sounds Familiar

Companies have been wondering what they have to do to successfully manage and retain millennial talent. According to FastCompany, millennial women are especially of concern to employers, so the International Consortium for Executive Development Research decided to find out what they want. Respondents’ requests boiled down to:

  • Know me — Invest the time to understand me as a person and what interests me both inside and outside of work.
  • Challenge me — I want to have continued opportunities to learn and grow.
  • Connect me — Relationships are important. I want to interact and collaborate with a wide network of people.
  • Inspire me — I want to derive a sense of meaning from my work.
  • Unleash me — I want to take good risks and have autonomy over my time and projects.

Interestingly, none of what the respondents said is very unusual. In fact, here’s what other researchers have previously said are the behaviors of “centered leadership”:

  • Meaning
  • Framing — adapting to change and building self-awareness
  • Energizing — tapping into the our natural energy reserves and rhythms
  • Connecting — interacting and collaborating with a wide network of people
  • Engaging — taking good risks and using your voice

Even more intriguing, the PERMA study of well-being found that well-being consists of these components:

  • Positive emotions
  • Engagement
  • Relationships
  • Meaning
  • Achievement

It’s all pretty much the same thing, so there maybe there’s no reason to obsess over millennials. They want what everyone wants. FastCompany suggests three things that can work especially well to keep millennials and everyone else engaged.

Give More Than You Take

There are givers and takers, and who you are can help generate positive relationships with employees. One study showed that being a boss who’s a giver enhanced the sense of meaning employees ascribed to their work.

Make Decisions Count

Employees can careen from the beginning to the end of the day, changing tasks with no method or reason, and the effect can be exhausting. Help employees maintain their energy by offering “decision-point” training that enables them to be more conscious of how frequently and why they shift gears.

Create More Positive Emotions

Research shows positive emotions lower blood pressure, enhance creativity, build resilience, and make it easier to bounce back from stressful situations. Do your best to project a genuine positive attitude, not one that’s so over-the-top that it causes stress instead of relieving it.

Naomi Thalenberg

Naomi is a reporter for TINYpulse, living and breathing everything employee engagement. She does this by always keeping her workstation fully stocked with dark chocolates.

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Leaders Who Don’t Snooze Lose

The area of the human brain that evolved most recently is the pre-frontal cortex. It’s the area of the brain that controls reasoning, problem solving, inhibition, organizing, planning, and the executing of plans. It’s also the part of the brain that’s most dependent on your getting enough sleep.

A recent Harvard Business Review survey of 180 business leaders revealed that 43% — 4 out of 10 — said they don’t get enough sleep at least four nights a week. It’s easy to understand how this happens in our 24/7, always-connected world, but it’s a problem.

Earlier studies by McKinsey&Company found that there are four traits in particular that closely correspond with excellence in leadership:

  • Operating with a strong orientation to results
  • Solving problems effectively
  • Seeking out different perspectives
  • Supporting others

Unfortunately for sleepy-headed leaders, all four are affected adversely by a lack of adequate rest.

Operating With a Strong Orientation to Results

Lack of sleep impairs one’s ability to focus. After 17–19 hours awake, concentration degrades to the equivalent of a person with a 0.05% blood alcohol — in some countries, that’s considered drunk. After 20 hours, it’s as if you have a 0.1% blood alcohol level. That’s like being legally drunk in the U.S.

Solving Problems Effectively

Sleep promotes insight, pattern recognition and the ability to come up with new ideas. Participants in one study were more likely to find a hidden shortcut after a good night’s sleep. Naps can also refresh a person’s ability to problem solve, and dream sleep apparently sets the sleeper up for creative thinking by allowing the brain to associate unrelated information in novel ways.

Seeking Out Different Perspectives

Sufficient sleep enhances the absorbing and utilizing of different perspectives since it makes the brain more capable of encoding new information, consolidating it in your memory, and retrieving it for use. It also promotes a clear-headed ability to weigh different opinions without imposing a cognitive bias.

Supporting Others

When you lack sleep, you’re far more likely to misinterpret others’ emotional cues, and it’s much more likely that you’ll feel and express negativity rather than a supportive attitude. A study showed, in fact, that employees feel less engaged with their own work when their bosses are over-tired.

The takeaway? Don’t feel guilty for shutting down your devices tonight. Get some sleep.


Dora Wang

Dora is an employee engagement reporter for TINYpulse. When she's not busy digging into and covering the latest workplace trends, she's wrangling with her three (yes, three) cats and rooting for the Seahawks.

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