Evolving Employee Engagement for the Evolved Generation
Tuesday, August 30, 2016 11:57:43 AM

Employee engagement is becoming important year after year. To achieve business objectives, it is a must to keep employees fully enthusiastic and involved in their work and retain their commitment to the company. To get your employees to care about the company’s future, and make them go the extra mile – or beyond the call of duty – you have to find innovative ways to keep them engaged, more so for the new majority of young workers or the millennials taking over the workplace.

Managers and CEOs should be worried about the waste of time, effort, and resources generated by disengaged employees. Let’s take a look at the recent statistics of employee engagement. The employee engagement index published by Gallup Management Journal in 2016 says that 70 percent of U.S. workers are not engaged at work. There was slight improvement in engagement levels in 2015, that was 32.5 percent, and till January, 2016 this figure remained the same. The magazine categorizes workers as “engaged” “based on their ratings of key workplace elements that predict important organizational performance outcomes, such as having an opportunity to do what they do best each day, having someone at work who encourages their development and believing their opinions count at work.”

Being the pioneer in employee engagement research and services, Gallup “has consistently found powerful links between employees who are engaged in their jobs and the achievement of crucial business outcomes.”

But how do you engage the millennial employee, the evolved cohort? Engaging the millennials will require creating an entire different approach and strategy. There are various best practices, activities, and ideas to promote employee engagement. Here are a few ways in which you can foster engagement among millennials: 

  1. Establish Effective Feedback Systems: Research indicated that the timing of giving feedback, frequency of feedback, and the manner in which feedback is delivered to the millennials is one of the major drivers to keep them engaged.
  2. Encourage Peer-to-Peer Recognition: Additionally, the trend of giving peer recognition has been on the rise and it will become a leading form of employee appreciation in 2016. Studies reveal that real-time peer-to-peer feedback or “managing sideways” is valued more by most millennials than bi-annual performance reviews. Hence, encouraging a culture of frequent feedback at all levels is crucial to keep the young workforce engaged.
  3. Build Your Brand and Reputation: Most research and studies have also indicated that employees are affected by their employers’ brand image. Most highly engaged individuals are proud of the organizations they work for. Millennials may walk if:
  • their employers do not have a branding that asserts “this is a great place to work.”
  • they do not know what the organizations stands for and how it is different from others.
  • they perceive a threat to the brand image or brand promise.
  1. Empower the Millennials: Millennials don’t want to be mere “cogs in the wheel” anymore; they wish to feel respected and wanted. They wish to know what impact their work makes on the business environment, they expect open communication, and expect employers to be more transparent about most things, be it compensation, recognition, or company strategy. They hope to exercise a fair degree of control over their working conditions, and want to have a say in decision-making.

Managers will have to move beyond mere productivity as a measure of employee’s worth and adopt newer ways that is familiar to this generation to engage them in work—in a way that will make them realize their latent potential. Companies need to be fast, adaptable, and innovative. Make them an active part of the process. Think collaboration and work-life balance as the norm.

  1. Find New Ways for Onboarding: Employers should consider changing the methods of onboarding to quickly integrate new hires into their organizations. Planning out how to introduce new hires into the system will affect employees’ engagement and future performance. Onboarding needs to outgrow the process of new hires going through the gamut of presentations and being told about company policies. Instead, maybe handing a plan revealing their growth within the company will catch their attention from day one.
  2. Reconsider What Rewards Mean to Millennials: Companies need to rethink existing reward programs to motivate the millennials better beyond mere monetary rewards such as hike in pay. Many companies use “employee of the month” schemes or a fancy lunch as a reward, but if your aim is to enable the team member to grow, then think of increasing their opportunities for learning and development. You need to think on the lines of providing opportunities for mentoring and career growth, options to healthy living and lifestyle, and work-life balance such as club memberships, participation in team events, and so on.