Companies – especially very large companies – tend to think of their employees as monolithic. However much lip service we pay to treating each individual as an individual, by necessity our policies treat everyone as the same. And while that may be necessary, when it comes to employee engagement, there are very distinct demographic or generational differences.
Research conducted by Gallup found many differences by age, experience, and education:
- College-educated employees are less engaged than employees with a high-school diploma or less. This may mean that you aren’t making the most of your highly educated employees. And since you – and the employee – have made and continue to make investments in this relationship, this could be a big disconnect.
- Millennials, Generation X and baby boomers are more engaged if they feel connected to what their organization stands for. Companies should make an effort to help these employees understand – and internalize – the company’s mission and vision.
- More so than other generations, baby boomers respond to managers who make an extra effort to show they care. Managers of different generations who manage boomers may find this difficult, but it is well worth the effort. And extremely cost effective as well!
- Generation X, millennials and baby boomers are more engaged when they have the ability to do what they do best every day. In order to keep these employees engaged, managers must learn about their employees’ skills and talents and begin positioning their people to use them every day.
- Millennials are particularly prone to job-hopping. Nearly half of actively disengaged millennials strongly agree that they want to find new jobs, while only 17% of engaged Millennials do. Managers can counteract this tendency in Millennials by giving them opportunities to learn and grow, which will increase their engagement. Read our previous blog on how to engage Millennials in the workplace.
- There really is a honeymoon: employee engagement is highest during employees’ first six months on the job. Companies should do everything possible to extend and intensify positive employee experiences through this period.
- Highly engaged managers lead to highly engaged long-term employees. In general, engagement tends to decline after an employee’s first six months on the job. However, companies with a highly engaged executive team generally see higher employee engagement among those with a tenure of 10 years or more.
- To improve employee engagement, be consistent and persevere. Employee engagement is not a simple problem with simple solutions. However, companies who make the commitment to measure engagement regularly, and to take actions based on their engagement survey results, usually see improvements in engagements among all types of employees, and especially those with tenure of 10 years or more.
So while employee policies must treat everyone the same, the best managers know that different individuals respond to different incentives. By understanding what motivates individuals in different generations, managers can tap into what works best for each to increase employee engagement.