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Why You Should Let Millennial Employees Criticize Your Company

Feb 06, 2017

The Leadership Insiders network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question, “How can you help millennials feel like they’re part of the company?” is written by Ryan Robinson, chief people officer at Bazaarvoice.

At Bazaarvoice, 73% of our employees are millennials—which is a lot. Millennials have grown up in the digital age of constant connectivity and immediate access to information. Members of this age group expect to make multiple career changes and work with multiple companies. As a result, there is an undeniable need for employers to understand what millennials value in their careers in order to attract and retain them.

A major difference between millennial employees and their counterparts from other generations is that the separation between their professional and personal lives is less distinct. Employees from this generation assume a fused identity, because they bring their work life home but often befriend their colleagues and socialize at work.

Millennials have grown accustomed to modern technologies that enable flexibility in both their schedules and their surroundings, and fully embrace it. For example, employees in this age group may arrive to the office late or leave early, but it’s also common for them to work outside of traditional office hours or to work remotely.

Since there’s more fluidity between their professional and personal lives, companies can make simple adjustments to accommodate millennials’ work style. As long as expectations are managed and work is completed, you can empower your employees to control their own schedules.

We recently moved our headquarters to a new location, and designing for flexibility was one of the top priorities for our new workspace. We created an open floor plan with modular workstations, and employees often use couches or the cafeteria instead of their own desks. Creating this relaxed work environment has facilitated more collaboration, socializing, and productivity, because employees thrive when they can work on their own terms.

Career growth is also extremely important to the millennial employee. Rather than remaining loyal to one company, millennials are more likely to leave jobs if they don’t see a clear career trajectory with their current employer. This age group craves constant feedback to ensure they’re growing professionally, and highly values recognition.

Organizations should acknowledge how ambitious millennials can be and educate supervisors on how to manage them. Recognition is not limited to raises and promotions; giving immediate feedback and acknowledging good work can go a long way. We adopted a high-performance coaching model where managers provide goal-oriented feedback to their direct reports on a monthly basis. We also encourage rewarding high-performing employees with development opportunities like contributing to a new project, learning another skill, or pursuing mentorship from more experienced employees.


When it comes to making millennials feel like they’re a part of the company, transparency cannot be underestimated. Regularly communicating your company’s vision, priorities, and goals to the entire organization helps all employees realize that their contributions matter and have a purpose. All of our new hires—whether they’re interns or executives—undergo the same training and orientation together. We hold global staff meetings for the entire company biweekly, and our executive leadership team travels to every office location annually to give business updates. This ensures that all of our employees feel included, informed, and impactful.

It’s also important to regularly solicit feedback from your employees. Millennials can be vocal when providing feedback, but they also want to be part of the solution. Several of our employee committees—from volunteerism to diversity—are led by some of our youngest employees. Encouraging your workers to involve themselves and pursue their passions gives them the opportunity to be visible across the organization and ownership over initiatives they truly care about.

It is imperative for your entire organization—not just the human resources department—to create an accommodating work environment for this younger generation. After all, in a few years, they will be your organization’s leaders, decision makers, and clients.

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