It’s no secret that an engaged workforce is critical to growth in an increasingly competitive landscape. According to Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends survey, employee engagement remains a top priority for companies with 91% of Canadian respondents saying it’s the most important human capital issue.

But acknowledging the importance of employee engagement and achieving engagement in your organization are two different things. Engaging employees in a meaningful way is a definite challenge. Indeed, data has shown that employee engagement across thousands of companies has remained flat, year over year.1

Why is employee engagement such a tall order?

Obstacles within employee engagement

Today’s blended workforce is more diverse than ever with multiple generations, dispersed global teams, and a melting pot of genders, cultures, races, and sexual identities.2 Full-time 9-to-5 employees are sharing the workload with flex-timers, part-timers, contractors, and freelancers. Plus, the explosion of mobile technology has untethered employees from the office, ushering in a trend of working remotely. With such diversity within an organization, developing engagement strategies that resonate across the workforce is a distinct challenge.

The Millennial Factor

Representing a large and growing segment of the workforce, Millennials bring a different set of values and expectations to the workplace than Gen Xers and Baby Boomers. They place a high value on learning, growth, and a sense of purpose. To satisfy these ideals through the pursuit of engagement, employers must offer opportunities for accelerated development, provide continuous cycles of promotion, and empower employees through mission-driven work.3

Purpose-driven companies that effectively communicate their purpose to their people can positively impact employee engagement. Individuals who feel their jobs have meaning, or feel they’re able to make an impact through their work, exhibit greater levels of loyalty. In fact, 73% of employees who say they work at a “purpose-driven” company are engaged, compared to just 23% of those who don’t.4

Millennials value flexibility

Although they value the certainty of full-time employment, Millennials also value flexibility in their work style. As companies strive to increase employee engagement, they are honouring these values and incorporating them into the organizational model. Deloitte’s 2017 Millennial survey found that 64% of respondents were able to work remotely, an increase of 21% from last year. Similarly, a 2016 study found that empowering employees by offering them the flexibility to choose how and where they work—at home, in collaborative group spaces, or in specialized “quiet areas”— was a key factor in employee engagement and satisfaction. By implementing flexible working arrangements, organizations support greater employee engagement and organizational performance while enhancing personal well-being and loyalty.5

Bridging the generational gap

In addition to developing employee engagement strategies that speak to the Millennial cohort, HR departments must strive to bridge the gap between the generations. Fostering a corporate culture that supports creativity, collaboration, and transparency will boost engagement across the organization. And by empowering employees and instilling a sense of ownership in their jobs, engagement will be significantly higher—regardless of whether they grew up playing hide-and-seek, Atari, or Xbox.

Get more insight into how HR professionals are redefining teamwork, engagement, and leadership in our latest ebook: The Future of People Management in the Digital Age, Part 1.

1. https://www2.deloitte.com/content/dam/Deloitte/us/Documents/human-capital/hc-2017-global-human-capital-trends-us.pdf
2, 3. https://dupress.deloitte.com/dup-us-en/focus/human-capital-trends/2016/employee-engagement-and-retention.html
4. https://inc.com/adam-vaccaro/purpose-employee-engagement.html
5. https://www2.deloitte.com/global/en/pages/about-deloitte/articles/millennialsurvey.html

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