Millennials are now significant part of the workforce. They come with their knowledge, passion, understandings and values. And they search for a match within the companies they join or leave.

One of the greatest struggles for every company is how to retain this workforce potential and keep it motivated and engaged. During the last several years companies often came with the conclusion that millennials are hard to be understood and almost impossible to be motivated.

Most of the business leaders come out with the question: How to motivate millennials?

But what they don’t understand is that motivation is an internal factor. It comes from the inside world of each person. And motivation is a result from the level of engagement. So, what business leaders must focus on is how to boost engagement. Business leaders must understand that engagement can make people think again when an offer for change comes into their inbox.

It is crucial for all business leaders to ask themselves not How to motivate? But How to engage people in the company.

The millennials are different from previous generations. They seek higher salaries, because they want stability, they admire social perks because these perks help them be more healthy, productive and secure, they demand learning opportunities because they want to advance in they career and make bigger positive impact for the organization they are part from. Millennials look for understanding, openness, support, freedom to do their job the way they think is right and fair and open relationship. They need to see that company values meet their personal values and that business leaders do not play roles but instead of that are standing in front of the company staff with authenticity.

Most of all millennials look for something called authenticity.

The winning strategy to retain millennials talent in the company comes from this authenticity.

Previous generations of leaders understand authenticity as part of the company mid and long term business goals and results. They strive for results and often don’t think about people as humans but as numbers and assets. This is what disengages millennials and what motivates them to look for new opportunities.

And business leaders need to understand that in today’s reality leadership is not only about numbers and shareholders satisfaction. Leadership has a more human side and this side comes from authenticity. Nowadays people look for human relationship, they are sensible when it comes to values.

  Business leaders must think about several things to ensure they have engaged millennials:

  1. VALUES are LAWS – Millennials read company written values when they search for information about the company. They look and compare written values with behavior of people they meet.
  2. VALUES are DIRECTION – when joining the company millennial newcomer starts comparing written values with real behaviors they see in the workplace. And these behaviors build their big picture about company real culture.
  3. MILLENIALS compare BEHAVIORS – when working for a company millennial compares people behavior on different company layers. There is a common mistake, made from senior executives who think that values mean different things on different layers. Millennials don’t see it that way. They seek for overlapping. If they see different approach across the layers, if they feel that there is no structured way and consolidated understanding for what authenticity means across all company layers they see the culture as toxic and stop believing in shared and written values.
  4. AUTHENTICITY includes EMOTIONS – Millennials seek for human behavior. They need to see that business leaders are humans who share emotions, struggle, suffer and also need support. They need to see that business leaders are open for improvement and ready to seek, receive and accept feedback from each layer in the company.

5.AUTHENTICITY =UNIQUENESS – Being authentic for millennials means that you are appreciated the way you are. Authentic leader does not wear masks, does not hide his/her nature. His/her emotions are not trait for their position but a ground for further development – personal and professional. Uniqueness positions leader as appreciated, positively valued and recommended party. Millennials know very well that being authentic makes people look real and try to always ensure that everyone is accepted the way he/she is. Seeing how a leader is trying to erase these uniqueness makes them feel caged and disengaged.

  1. AUTHENTICITY ≠ ARROGANCE – When behavior differs from a written and proclaimed values millennials start thinking for authenticity as arrogance. Being authentic leader for a millennial means that you not only share your thoughts and vision, but also listen to others ideas and choose the best in class that lead ahead. Leading from the position of power disengages millennials and points to a weak or no leader behavior.


Times are changing. Generations are also changing. As a business leader, if you want to engage the leading generation on the labor market you should really  understand the power of authenticity  and implement it  in the day to day  schedule. Millennials really like to see that they have people but not “mechanical robots” around them, they want to feel the human sight of the working relationship and see real support and freedom helping them to succeed and the environment to grow through their own success.  And organizations and leaders understanding and supporting authenticity will succeed in engaging and retaining this group talents from the market and those who still think different will struggle with results and will have to use more and more resources to keep their best  employees on board.

You have your thoughts on this topic. Feel free to share them in the comments section.

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