Engaging employees in a Millennial era

Millennials have recently surpassed Generation Xers as the largest generation in the Canadian workforce according to Statistics Canada. Millennials are expected to make up over 75 percent of the workforce by 2028. So what exactly does that mean for businesses? Is it the end of business as we know it? Yes and no.

A generational effect on business

With every generational change comes a different way of doing things. For business, it’s no different. While the baby boomer generation conducts business for personal career growth and financial gain, the new wave of Millennials are more about the “We”. Everything is done in a way that benefits people, the environment and the balance sheet simultaneously, commonly referred to as “Triple Bottom Line.”

So who are these happy-go-lucky youngsters and what authority do they have in changing something that’s been the precedent of doing business for so many years? In order to understand the way Millennials work, one must first understand their values and motivations.

The Millennial movement

“I can do this, I just might not do it the way you thought I would.” This is the thinking of the Millennial. Now this may sound a bit selfish, but the fact is, this generation is far from it. Millennials are dedicated team players, and have been brought up with strong values from their elders. They are always willing to learn and accept mentorship from their seniors and want to know well in advance what the expectations are in a workplace. They want to excel at what they do and will make sure the job is done right. But perhaps not in the way you’d expect.

Despite being a hard working generation, Millennials like to play hard. They are filled with wanderlust, which means they are more likely to leave their jobs on a whim as they fulfill their travel ambitions. The latest research indicates that only 36 per cent of Millennials expect to stay at their current job for 3-5 years. So what does this mean for businesses looking to hire and retain? Cater to the three P’s: People, Planet and Profit.


With this mobile generation, companies have to get used to high turnover and not having a full time workforce. This means hiring experienced contractors for certain jobs and creating an open and dynamic environment where employees can work remotely if needed. For some, that may present a problem. How does a business maintain a sense of team and belonging in a company where people are always on the go? The answer is to create a “live-work-play” environment with a transparent culture. Managers must also be able to put enough trust in their employees to do their job, and provide ample growth and learning opportunities.

It is also important to give employees the opportunity to get out and volunteer. According to a Pew Research study, 21 per cent of Millennials ages 18 to 29 valued helping others in need as one of the most important things in their life. If businesses give Millennials a reason to commit that goes beyond what’s good for the balance sheet, they will be more devoted to the company and the people around them.


According to a Bentley PerparedU Project, 86 per cent of Millennials prioritize working for companies that are socially and environmentally responsible. That’s a staggering number when you consider how many Millennials are expected in the workforce in the next few years.

While no company consciously sets out to harm the planet, Millennials hold businesses that are actively willing to go above and beyond in their environmental policies in higher regard. Doing good is no longer an option, but an expectation.


At the end of the day, businesses exist to make a profit. But why can’t a business make a profit while also doing good? More and more, we are beginning to see the importance of businesses accounting for human and natural capital in addition to traditional financial metrics. Businesses that follow a Triple Bottom Line model are not only more sustainable by catering to their stakeholders, but they set a valuable example for others to follow.

Since most Triple Bottom Line businesses usually have to meet rigorous standards of corporate purpose, accountability and transparency, they are frequently deemed as better managed and tend to also garner more trust; making them better investments.

The new norm

With the rise of this new business model comes the development of new global communities like B Corps that bring together businesses with a common goal of changing the world. Unsurprisingly, businesses in this sector have no problem finding and engaging young and talented employees. Just ask Ben & Jerry’s, Etsy, Patagonia and Hootsuite, just to name a few.

In order to engage with Millennials, one must see eye to eye with them and learn to adapt. Someday, this Triple Bottom Line model will be the norm. And those who can’t see the value in adopting this approach will be left in the dust.

Sean Jimenez
Sean Jimenez
Sean Jimenez is the CEO of Soulpepper, a full service digital marketing agency based in Vancouver, B.C. A social impact entrepreneur, Sean uses his expertise in eCommerce, sales and sustainable business practices to develop digital strategies to help impact corporations grow. His areas of specialization include omni-channel and digital strategy, web analytics, search engine optimization and online advertising. Sean's passionate about developing triple bottom line businesses equally focused on profit, people and the environment. He is the former owner and operator of Champions Martial Arts, Canada's largest martial arts school.

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