CHARLESTON, SC – In a study conducted by The Gallup Organization, it was discovered that only about 30% of the workforce across multiple industries are fully engaged and inspired at work. From the study, about 18% of employees are actively disengaged.
Out of all the definitions of employee engagement I have read over the years, I like one referenced in an article in Forbes Magazine: “the emotional commitment the employee has to the organization and its goals.”
Why is this important? Estimates are that actively disengaged employees cost the US between $450 billion to $550 billion each year in lost productivity. Additional data from a Development Dimensions International survey is also disconcerting. The study reported that 51% of new hires regret the decision to accept their current job and that 40% of new hires are already looking for another job! If we assume that almost 100% of new hires were excited and engaged when they started, we have to ask, “What happened?”
What complicates the efforts of supervisors, managers, executives, and business owners in engaging and motivating employees is the varying behaviors, personalities, and needs of the workforce. Much has been written about the difficulties in managing multiple generations.
What drives each age group to produce and dedicate themselves to an employer is different. There is no “one size fits all” panacea in performance management. With a few exceptions, most work places encompass employees who are a Baby Boomer (1946-1964), Generation X (1965-1976), or Millennial, sometimes referred to as Generation Y (1977-1997).
Baby Boomers are the “nose to the grindstone” workers. Job titles, status, and a defined career ladder are important. Baby Boomers are willing to work long hours to get the job done and don’t require constant feedback.
The Generation X employees were the first to start focusing on a work/life balance. They enjoy flexible hours and do not always understand why working long hours are a necessity. The Generation X employee wants and needs structure and direction and likes constant direct face-to-face communication.
The Millennial employee comes from the generation where everybody gets a participation trophy, but represents the most diverse group. They are the most technologically savvy and can relate without a lot of face-to-face interaction. Millennials are more tolerant of those who are different, are more skilled at multitasking, and need to know they are working toward a worthwhile goal.
The Millennial employee needs and wants constant feedback. Terms used in managing Millennials would have been foreign to Baby Boomers. Work terms like nurturing, coddling, social landscape, fun (What!), work culture, and relationships. It might be tempting to take Millennials lightly, but by 2020, this group will make up more than 55% of the national workforce.
As a supervisor, manager, executive, or owner, how do you implement talent management strategies that positively impact employee engagement across all generations? The solutions are not that complicated, but take effort, patience, consistency, and sincerity.
• All employees want and need to have expectations clearly communicated and defined.
• All employees want consistent feedback on performance—some more often than others.
• All employees should see and feel that someone cares about their success.
• All employees should see objective and realistic opportunities to grow and be challenged.
• All employees should feel like they are connected to the mission of the company.
• All employees should feel they are making a positive impact in their job.
Finally, all employees want to be treated with dignity, courtesy, respect, fairness, and with ethical behavior. Try these simple-to-implement strategies with employees who want to succeed and watch the productivity increase.
Richard Davis, SHRM-SCP, SPHR, is president of McClain Group LLC, an executive recruiting and talent management company he founded in 1992 in Charleston, SC. Davis has presented in the education sessions at Medtrade since 1995 on a wide range of HR, employment law, and talent management topics.