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Millennials might be the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, but they certainly aren’t the most engaged.
 
According to Gallup, only 29% of millennials are engaged at work. And this isn’t a group that will remain passive about their disengagement, either; a full six out of ten are actively seeking new employment opportunities.
 
On the macro level, this is doing some serious damage to our economy. Gallup reports that lack of millennial engagement costs our economy between $284 and $469 billion annually in lost productivity, and $30.5 billion annually in turnover.
 
On the micro level, this means our businesses are watching talent walk out our doors over and over again.
 
What can we do to combat this? For one, take a look at your company’s technology setup.
 

The role of technology in employee engagement

You’ve heard it before: people don’t leave jobs, they leave managers.
 
Your company can offer great wages, copious vacation time, flexible work hours, cutting-edge gadgets, and all the best snacks. What your retention is always going to boil down to, though, is whether or not your managers are effective, engaging leaders.

 


The key, Gallup found, is communication: “The more conversations managers have with their employees, the more engaged their employees become… While all forms of communication are effective, managers who use a combination of face-to-face, phone and electronic communication are the most successful at engaging employees.”
 
If your direct reports can only interact with you over email and the occasional phone call, your relationship will be as disjointed as your conversations. This is absolutely a deal-breaker for many millennials, who crave constant feedback and a genuine personal connection to their manager.
 
Fortunately, there are a whole host of tech tools out there that will help break down any and all barriers to communication.
 

Tools I’d recommend

To help build and maintain an engaging work environment, take a look at the following:

  • Slack. This all-in-one communication tool takes your internal conversations out of email and into a centralized, dynamic platform that combines instant messaging, voice calling, video calling, file sharing, and Facebook-esque conversation threads. The result is a highly inclusive, highly accessible, highly collaborative environment that brings your team closer together. Some similar tools to consider are Microsoft Teams and Workplace by Facebook.
  • Zoom. I’ve never encountered a video conferencing platform that is as painless and as seamless to use as Zoom. If you aren’t able to hold consistent face-to-face meetings with your direct report, using this tool will get you most of the way there; besides having exceptional voice and video quality, Zoom allows for virtual conference rooms and screen sharing to simulate most types of in-person interactions. A couple comparable products are Skype for Business and BlueJeans.

These tools, of course, won’t be the best solution for every organization; before implementing any solution, take the time to assess your company’s communication strategy to see where you are doing well, and where you might need some help (in other words, what is the problem you’re actually trying to solve?).
 
No matter which technology solutions you choose, be sure to encourage a culture of communication at all levels of your organization.
 
A tool is only as effective as the force behind it, after all.
 

 
As originally published in the American City Business Journals

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