Engage Your Employees and Turn TGIF into TGIM!
By: Catherine Conlan
If your employees are breaking for the door on Friday afternoons, you may be dealing with an employee engagement problem.
It’s not unusual — according to Gallup, the majority of employees in the U.S. aren’t engaged in their jobs. But with the multi-generational workforce that you likely have at your organization, you may wonder if it’s possible to get a fully engaged workforce and turn TGIF into TGIM?
In some ways, yes. “Whether someone is 20, 30, 40 or 50, they all want the dignity and gratitude of doing great work and everyone wants to be part of something that is more than just their job,” says Rich Berens, president at Root Inc., a business strategy firm. He says the drivers of engagement are much the same regardless of generation:
● People want to be part of something bigger than themselves.
● People want to feel a sense of belonging.
● People want to go on a meaningful journey.
● People want to know their contributions make an impact.
Of course, each generation tends to have different priorities because of their ages and life events., These factors can have an effect on engagement.
Understanding these differences can make it easier for employers to boost engagement — and result in an engaged workforce who actually want to come to work on Mondays.
Workforce engagement relies on communication. Employees who understand company goals and their role in achieving them are likely to be more engaged. Remember though — they aren’t going to know what those are unless you communicate them. Do so effectively by understanding how each generation generally prefers to receive.
Boomers, for example, often prefer in-person presentations, one-on-one discussions and informational handouts, says Melissa Erenberg of Assurance, a Chicago-based insurance company. Younger employees, however, are often comfortable with communicating through electronic means, such as text messages, emails, videos and social media.
Amy Glass, director of training at BRODY Professional Development in Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, recommends employers use the “most efficient” medium when communicating with Gen Xers.
Understand Employee Motivations
Because the different generations are at different stages in their lives, each one may be looking for something different from their work. To boost workforce engagement, carefully consider what drives each generation.
For example, Boomers are looking for ways to pass on their knowledge and stay relevant by mentoring or coaching younger generations, Glass says, which makes them a good match for Millennials, who are looking for useful insights on how to grow their careers.
Gen Xers, who may have children at home while trying to manage their aging parents, are particularly interested in work-life balance, Glass says, which may mean flexible scheduling or work-from-home options can be appealing.
When it comes to feedback, Boomers and Gen Xers require little feedback to do their jobs well, adds Glass. Remember, they’ve been doing those jobs for some time, and know how to incorporate feedback and move on. Millennials, however, crave feedback and are eager to hear how they’re doing much more frequently than more mature generations.
Finally, Boomers are looking to leave a legacy as they wrap up their careers, while Gen Xers are preparing to move into senior leadership positions. Meanwhile, “Gen Y seeks opportunities to contribute and move up the corporate ladder quickly, based on competencies, not tenure,” Glass says. They like to see the meaning and value of their contributions to stay engaged.
Employee benefits play a strong role in employee engagement and satisfaction. Chris Bruce, managing director of Thomsons Online Benefits, recommends that employers consider different generations when putting together benefits packages.
“While older workers tend to value healthcare insurance and the extension of their program to their family, younger employees often prefer opportunities to travel, or to receive great offers from their local gym,” Bruce says. Surveying employees can also give you insights into what they prefer most.