How to Build Trust with Millennials

One of the more interesting findings uncovered during our Columbus Trust Study concerns the erosion of trust in America. It's particularly severe among the Millennial generation, which now represents the largest block of the American workforce. When asked whether or not they agree that "Generally speaking, most people can be trusted," Millennials responses scored the lowest of all the generations.


So, how can you win the trust of the most skeptical generation?In his book "Chasing Relevance," Dan Negroni points to three important factors for working with Millennials, a generation that will make up 75% of the workforce in the next 10 years.

  1. Show that you care. You can't assume that Millennials think you care about them. You have to demonstrate that you do. That means engaging them. Ask them genuine questions about how you can support their professional growth, or what you can do to help them with difficult situations they may be facing on the job. The key is to be authentic in your care for them. If you really care about their success, show them - don't assume they know.
  2. Give feedback regularly. Millennials may not always ask for feedback, but they want it. This means figuring out a way that you and they are most comfortable dialoguing. It may be through regular e-mail, text messages, face-to-face check-ins, or a combination of each. Having a regular feedback loop sends the signal that you are open to ideas, questions and conversations, which builds loyalty and retention.
  3. Be accountable for your own actions. Nothing will undermine trust more among Millennials than a leader who doesn't own up to his or her own mistakes. Negroni points out that it's vital to show your own vulnerability. Yes, that means demonstrating that you're human! The result? Being real and transparent makes you much more approachable and easier to connect with.

Millennials are savvy and resourceful, and have so much to offer any business. If you're still one that questions their work habits, consider what an HR consultant recently said to me: "Millennials are the children of Boomers." That's why it's a two-way street, and leaders must do their part to show the care, engagement and vulnerability that Millennials respect and appreciate most. Are you doing your part to win the trust of your Millennial employees?