Why You Should See Employee Engagement In A New Light

By 2025, 75% of the global workforce will comprise of millennials. With this obvious trend (decline of baby boomers and rise of the millennials) that has already kickstarted, it signals to companies that new ways of managing the workforce needs to  be set in place. While the report from Workforce 2020 (produced by SAP, in collaboration with independent research group Oxford Economics) shows that millennials could be, in fact, not very different from their seniors, there are still some some traits about the millennials which companies cannot afford to overlook. it is definitely advantageous to know what they are looking for when determining if the company is a right fit for them.

Innovative Thinking
According to The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2014, millennials want to work for companies that foster innovative thinking.

78 percent of Millennials were strongly influenced by how innovative a company was when deciding if they wanted to work there, but most say their current employer does not encourage them to think creatively.
When asked about the barriers to innovation, they cited management attitude (63 percent), operational structures and procedures (61 percent) and employee skills, attitudes and diversity (39 percent) as the main reasons.

What the millennials have abundance on hand is technology, which gives them access to loads of valuable information. Having grown up with technology advancement, they have been shaped into a group who are aware of the surroundings and wants to work on complex problems through creative solutions which they are well-equipped to come up with.

Social Impact
When it comes to doing social good, millennials can be said to be at the forefront and they are eager to make that difference.

In his report Meet The Millennials (2010), Leigh Buchanan state that almost 70 percent (of millennials) state  “giving back” and “being civically engaged” as their highest priorities.

4 years down the road, statistics from The Deloitte Millennial Survey 2014 show that millennials agree that a business should not be just measured based on financial figures, the ability and effort of the organization to give back to society is one of the important attributes companies should looked to possess.

Given how millennials places emphasis on giving back to the society, companies should not rule out the fact that allowing younger workers a chance to contribute to society good through their work is key to engaging and motivating employees. Results (taken from a survey done by NetImpact),  have shown that employees across all age groups feels that it is more important to “make a difference for others” rather than to be “personally successful”.

Career Progress/Development
A good paycheck could, no doubt, be a great pulling factor while on the hunt for talents. However, this may not always be the case, and it applies to millennials too.

In the same report from NetImpact, more than 50 percent highlighted the importance of “opportunities for rapid advancement or promotion in the next few years and close to 90 percent want the “ability to grow and learn new skills”. Workforce 2020 has also demonstrated that “Not enough opportunities for advancement” is one of concerns employees have about their job.

New research by CultureAmp found that development opportunities and leadership have 3-4X greater impact on retention than your relationship with your immediate manager.
Besides monetary compensation as a motivation, wouldn’t it be better if the budget was used in growing your own talent pool? This gives them the acknowledgement, that they are being valued as a resource and are groomed to contribute better to your organization (and to society). Millennials thrive on doing valuable and meaningful work, remember?

Work-life Balance & Flexibility
Millennials grew up in the technology era. They understood very well how existing technologies platforms can be utilized to allow them to work from another location. As such they don’t see the need to spend the full 9 – 5 kind of hours in the office. They prefer the flexibility to work remotely.

One of the major findings in PwC’s NextGen study shows that Millennials and Non-Millennials (both categories occupying more than 60 percent), look forward to flexibility which includes work from home and adjust working hours. Some are even willing to sacrifice a cut in their pay in exchange for fewer working hours.

How should you  approach employee engagement then?

When it comes to creating strategies for engaging employees, InviPulse do not recommend a “spot-reduction” kind of mentality. It’s akin to losing weight. When you do start dropping some pounds, you don’t really get to choose which area of your body you want the reduction to happen. The fat loss happens throughout.

In the same light, employee engagement cannot be executed, say, specifically for baby-boomers (or millennials). For engagement to last, there is only one party to consider. And that is your whole organization. All levels should be aligned towards the same direction.

Employee engagement itself is a dynamic and huge topic to cover, simply because it touches on human behaviors. All of that cannot be covered in detail in just one post. As such, we will be highlighting a few that are worth mentioning, actionable once you put your heart to engage your workers and beneficial in the long run.

Create a Sense of Belonging
The need to have a sense of belonging is a fundamental motivation of human and it is often one area which is given less priority.  A study done in 2008 has shown that a lack of sense of belonging, which was referred to as social pinches, have similar effect as physical pain. This means that being socially rejected is as good as inflicting physical beat-ups on a person.  An example of a social pinch could be unfair treatment which is likely a common happening in your workplace.

According to the same study, we are more prone to make less sensible decisions when we experience social pinch. When one faces threat to their need to belong, the brain impairment is triggered. And in order to attain sense of belonging which humans are wired to crave for, employees will do all sorts of things to satisfy that need. Information silos. Gossips. Silo thinking. Does all of these sound familiar? These events are just some instances that may occur in your company if you do not put in effort to create Belonging.

The good news is, social pleasure has the same effect as receiving rewards.

When our social needs are being satisfied, the brains respond in much the same way as it responds to other rewards that are more tangible.
This, once again, suggest that monetary benefits is not the one solution to keeping employees engaged. We especially like this sentence from the report:
… exclusive premium put on financial rewards as an incentive around the office may be overstated.
Being accepted, treated and cherished as a member of the team may turn on the reward systems in the brain and satisfy human’s need to belong. Creating an environment that supports that need are likely to bring in benefits such as better collaboration between employees and improved performance. When your people can’t wait to go into work each day, you know that’s a pretty good sign.

In order to create a sense of belonging, there are a few things you could do. Here’s some:

  • Align your team towards the bigger objectives of the company. Openly tell them how their every effort is contributing to the growth of the company and that you truly appreciate them.
  • Constant communication to the organization about any news that affects the company, regardless of negative or positive. Your employees have every right to know.
  • Firmly deal with any behaviours that is not in line with your core values (especially those in the leadership position). Let the employees know what kind of culture are you trying to develop.
  • Provide a channel where employees can easily give inputs. i.e. They have a voice.
  • Respect each individual. Understand that there are times where everyone of us needs time and space to deal with the different areas of life.

Support The Same Purpose
Communicate the company’s core purpose to the whole organization. Make it clear and ensures every employee understood and that they are all on the same page as you. In Daniel H. Pink’s book, Drive, he mentioned that carrot-and-stick incentives (such as paying the employees well) is a short term solution. The end result is that people strive for the reward and not because they truly want to do it well. According to Pink, what you and me really want in our jobs is autonomy, a platform to get better at what we’re doing, and at the same time connecting us to a bigger purpose.

It may be hard to imagine that working towards a common purpose connects and engages your employees much better than any other effort. One experiment has shown just that. An independent statistical analysis conducted by the company, LRN, aims to find out how things actually worked in a company – the organizational behaviors and their impact on business performance. It was a thorough analysis that was obtained from a study conducted by Boston Research Group that spans across 36,000 employees in 18 countries , The Center for Effective Organizations at University of Southern California and Research Data Technology , Inc. When all of these findings were treated with many different outcome variables, the result that came out each time was the same.

When trust, values and a purpose-driven mission exist to a statistically significant degree and guide leadership, decision-making and behavior, these “enablers” give rise to a highly inspired group of super-engaged employees.
It is also important to note that the analysis provided another insight. If working towards the same purpose does not affect behaviour in a company positively, it is likely that other engagement efforts will not gain momentum. The worst case could be that disengaged employees may silently hope for the team and business to fall through or take some form of actions to sabotage company’s goal.

So go ahead and articulate what your company’s core purpose(greater goal) really is. Ask these two question – “Why does <your company name> exist? What is our core purpose?” You may dig deeper and discover a much more profound and meaningful purpose for the existence of your company. It could be as simple as something like “Making healthcare more affordable and reliable for the common folks.” The point is, everyone in your organization must be aligned along this purpose, so that they are inspired and see the value in whatever they do.

Employee engagement takes time to develop. If you have your employees in your heart, they’ll feel and see it.

PS: Have some burning questions to ask? Drop an email to regina@invipulse.com. I answer every email.

This post was also published on Executive Lifestyle.​

Image source: Designed by Freepik

Building a sharing culture...Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterEmail this to someoneBuffer this page