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How Employers Can Keep Those Overqualified Millennials On Board

05/16/2017 01:49 EDT | Updated 05/16/2017 01:52 EDT

Many employers have likely experienced the moment when they realize their workplace is home to an overqualified employee. These employees might have keenly accepted their job offer and tackled their assignments with gusto when they walked through the door on their first day.

But after some time, experience and training, they might appear to be more confident than usual. On the other hand, you might notice signs of disengagement. What's an employer to do?

bored annoyed worker office

(Photo: Baona via Getty Images)

You might be surprised to hear that staff of all age groups feel overqualified at work. In fact, a new study from Monster Canada revealed that one quarter of Canadians feels this way in their current role.

Since employers invest in their staff and don't want to lose strong performers, they may want to keep an eye out for clues that an employee feels overqualified. Here are some tips to ensure you're regularly challenging your employees and not losing out on their productivity and engagement, no matter their age or skill set.

Get to know your employees

First things first, in order to motivate any staff member you have to get to know what actually motivates them. It could be salary, career development or perhaps a loyalty reward for staying for a long period of time with the company.

You can quickly get to know employees better through internal surveys, interactive meetings as well as social activities in or out of the office. Once you collect insights or perhaps results, I'll bet that you'll a) better equipped to motivate your staff and b) find similarities among age groups and position levels.

Mentor the mentors-to-be

It's likely that employees won't feel overqualified in all avenues of their role at work. Prepared with those insights on what your employees are seeking out of work, invite them to be mentors to incoming employees.

Consider giving them some breathing room to grow on their own.

I realize this may not be desired by everyone, so pick and choose how you see fit. For example, you can start a buddy program in the office in which the more "engaged" qualified staff can help guide newcomers to the ways of the workplace. In due time, the veterans will also be able to hand off what they perceive to be the "unchallenging" tasks that will likely be more challenging to someone more new.

All in all, this is one way of giving an overqualified worker to not only feel empowered, but to help empower others and shape the company culture.

Make way for more autonomy

If you're dealing with a not-so-engaged and overqualified employee, consider giving them some breathing room to grow on their own. Not all staff members want to have to constantly check n with colleagues or managers. This rings true for more industries than others where the work is less team-oriented and working remotely is the norm.

If you can limit your supervision while still maintaining strong levels of productivity, I would suggest giving it a try. You may be pleasantly surprised at what your employees can do if they're given a little more autonomy in their work, and it might shake off the feeling of being overqualified as they find new challenges.

young employee office

(Photo: Thomas Barwick via Getty Images)

Look outside

As millennials are building up stronger repertoires of experience and responsibilities than generations before them, it should come as no surprise that 29 per cent noted feeling overqualified at work. As this demographic oftentimes craves experience over other kinds of rewards, there are several ways for you to help them stay motivated. It's even OK to start by looking outside of the workplace.

You can encourage or offer professional association memberships as a way from millennials to network and socialize with likeminded people in their field. And once they're back in the office, you can task them with the responsibility of reporting on industry developments on a more regular basis. This shows that their input and insight is valued, too. Alternatively you can provide stretch opportunities for millennials to experience different teams, projects or roles in your office.

Keep in mind that you'll likely receive the best results if you tailor your engagement strategy to suit your employees individually -- but particularly those from the younger generation.

Build loyalty

No matter the age group, you may come across more than one overqualified employee in your work environment. With some extra attention, time and conversation, you can figure out the best ways to motivate them to go on to motivate the next class of overqualified employees.

While employees remain engaged, they also remain loyal to the employer too. A win-win for both!

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