Monday July 4, 2011
By Sam Felton, Client Account Manager
According to a recent GfK International Employee Engagement Survey, where 30,000 employees in 29 countries were surveyed, only 12% of UK workers between the ages of 18-29 years old are, in some cases, engaged in the workplace. This figure improves only fractionally to 21% of this age group being ‘very engaged’ across the world. The survey also questioned the different age groups about their attitude to work-life balance. In comparison to the over 60s, 39% of the 18-29 age range were frequently / nearly always concerned about their work-life balance, whereas in the over 60 category, only 24% were.
So what do these results tell us? Should we be concerned that our younger team members are lacking engagement? How can we improve these figures? And what lessons can be learnt?
Expectations of work and work-life balance are very different across the three generations now found in the workplace – Baby Boomers, Gen X and Gen Y. Generation Y are typically those born between 1982 and 2001 and have grown up in a world where work-life balance is extremely important, are very career focused and also very HR and ‘people’ savvy. They expect their employer to provide wellbeing benefits along with the option of flexi-time and believe a business should mould a job around a person’s capabilities and development within a company. The growth in psychological and engagement/productivity research means that younger generations are taught early on to expect more from their employers and when it doesn’t match expectation they will lack engagement and productivity.
On the other hand, the Baby Boomers (those now in their 60’s), were raised in a generation where a job is for life. They have seen hard times come and go through experience and time; the business highs of the 80’s and the lows of the 90’s.For them the recent recession and tightening of ‘people stuff’ may not be influencing their engagement and work-life balance in the big picture.
This disengagement amongst the younger generation cannot be ignored; and the continuation of the difficult economic climate isn’t helping matters. Some may be clinging to their job for dear life, in order to pay their housing rents (as few at this age are able to buy), and some may be staying where they are because the job market simply remains difficult. As employers we should be acknowledging the difficulties our people are facing and offering support in order to strengthen engagement levels; showing them they are needed, appreciated, valued and listened to.
In order to do this however, we need to understand what the current engagement situation is within our organisations. There are several HR tools you can use to improve and make yourself more aware of what’s going on around the business, such as:
- Engagement surveys: Canvass the opinions of your people and discover exactly what they are thinking and feeling. From this you can also find out the percentage of your company that are engaged and disengaged. By joining our 'Purple Revolution' you are able to access our q-box survey for up to 100 people for free!
- Annual/bi-annual appraisals: encourage your managers to have one-to-one meetings with their team members at least once a year and have them discuss career aspirations, satisfaction, challenges and concerns. As a company you will have a better view of how everyone is doing, as well as make those employees feel listened to, respected and appreciated. For more information on our talent toolbox family of solutions see here.
- Learning and development: listen to what people want, and offer them a chance to grow, develop and improve. Not only will they then perform better in their role, but they will also feel that you are investing in them, see a future for them in the company and therefore increase engagement. Empowering them to drive their own development can also prove beneficial.
- Personality profiling: to understand individual’s motivations and personalities at work you can also use psychometric testing such as SDI and iWAM. Learning sessions around these tools should be provided to managers so they understanding the findings from psychometric tests and use accordingly to best motivate their teams. These tools can also help with recruitment of the right ‘types’ of personalities to fit in with your culture.
How engaged are your people? How often do your employees speak openly and honestly with their line manager about their career aspirations and role satisfaction?